Tanya Peterson Felsheim
Tanya Peterson Felsheim
  • Hometalker
  • Grants Pass, OR
Asked on Jun 24, 2013

Dogwoods

TJDouglas HuntMaggie Lais
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Answered

I have two wonderfully well established dogwoods in my back yard but I have been hesitant of trimming off the lowest branches but right now they seem more like bushes than trees. Is it ok to trim off just some of the lower limbs right now? supposed to be not higher in temp for this week
this is older photo but the shrub looking thing to the left before the arbor is one of my dogwood trees
this is older photo but the shrub looking thing to the left before the arbor is one of my dogwood trees
again older picture but the dogwood is almost dead center of this photo
again older picture but the dogwood is almost dead center of this photo
23 answers
  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 24, 2013

    Tanya, you should be extremely cautious pruning dogwoods because of the possibility of bark injury, which can provide an entry for dogwood borer larvae. Dogwoods are often full to the ground in nature, but if this bothers you, the best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, before signs of new growth.

  • Mssmatch
    on Jun 24, 2013

    that is correct about the borers, in 1984 we set out 18 dogwoods, there are 9 left today. Dogwoods are highly susceptible to borers. The 9 remaining are full and gorgeous and I would not dream of removing any lower branches, it's 10-15 degrees cooler under all that shade on a hot summer day!

  • Here in Atlanta I know several people who prune off lower dogwood branches and have not heard of dogwood borers being a problem. Iris borers on the other hand... Douglas is correct about waiting to prune. If a tree or shrub is injured or damage, it is OK to prune anytime.

  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim
    on Jun 26, 2013

    I have trouble with borers in my old Rosebushes so I can imagine they would be the same in the dogwoods. That Bums me out....Maybe I should just cut off the greenery leaving branches too small to bore? Its just that they are causing the things under them to get no light or shade and when I got them I had thought they would be trees. Didn't realize how longit would take them to become trees! my bad! @Douglas Hunt @Mssmatch @Flowerscapes Garden Design & Landscaping

  • Jenny@birdsandsoap
    on Jun 26, 2013

    I've had several dogwoods and always had bad luck with them. Stunted growth, discolorations, diseases....I just admire them from others' lawns now. Good luck!

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 26, 2013

    I think it would be better to move the plants under them than to prune your dogwoods.

  • Joanie1051
    on Jun 26, 2013

    You could wait to prune until late next winter/early spring as suggested above, but do a Bayer Tree and Shrub treatment this fall to have a systemic insecticide circulated through the tree before pruning. This is a 12 month treatment, so I would suggest another treatment annually for another couple of years until the pruning cuts are thoroughly sealed to discourage borers, or continue for several years while you continue to shape the tree through pruning. I am so envious of your wonderful grow-anything-in-it soil in Oregon. The miserable clay "soil" we have in Kansas City is very hard to garden in and dogwoods are pretty much out of the question!

  • Mssmatch
    on Jun 26, 2013

    move things growing under them. The only thing that grows under all mine is moss... you can also spray for borers..

  • I have stray cone flowers and Mealy cup sage under two of mine, and some blue creeping phlox. They were planted when the trees were young, so that is probably why they co-exist well. Prior to the Downey Impatiens Disease, I planted pink and white impatiens in a border in front of these two. The dogwoods in this front island created just for them, are pink and white, inspired by the gorgeous dogwoods in Piedmont Park and surrounding area in Atlanta. My other are in my wooded area, pink dogwoods with pink native Peidmont Azaleas, white ones near Alabama and My Mary native Azaleas, Pink Kousa and white Kousa where I could find room. I knock on wood for my dogwoods to stay healthy.

    , A pink and white dogwood sharing the sky in an island in my front yard, I try hard to keep my Lady Banks Rose out of the dogwood especially since they can share the same disease
  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim
    on Jul 2, 2013

    Yes my mistake was thinking my dogwoods would be trees rather than bushes....they are healthy and seem to love my yard so I will do what @Douglas Hunt suggests and move the lavender that is under them which is dying guess I should be happy and blessed that they have been so healthy and love growing in my backyard. They are growing a lot thicker and fuller and not as fast upwards as I expected. Usually I really research out plants before I buy them but my husband had said he loved dogwoods and always wanted one so after 5 years of making the yard ready...I bought a pink one and a white one for him. I read what it said on the tag....guess it didn't say EVERYTHING on a little tiny tag! 2 pictures one showing the lavender dying under the one and the other is the healthy one that has nothing growing under it....

    , Poor Spanish lavender you re just going to have to live somewhere else, Pretty Pink dogwood I vow to to never plant anything under your radiant short lived flowering greenery
  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jul 3, 2013

    Lavender has no place under a dogwood, Tanya. Move it to a bright dry spot and both will be the happier for it.

  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim
    on Jul 3, 2013

    Boy @Douglas Hunt you are tough! actually I hadn't planted it under there it moved over from beside and then Died...was wondering why it died guess #1 it needs more sun....#2 the dogwoods BARK is as bad as its Bite haha

  • Lgsmith
    on Jul 3, 2013

    Gee I don't know what kind of dogwood ya'll have, but mine are trees. I have 10 that I move from the back of my property. They never had branches like the one you're showing. Mine were young saplings about 2 or 3 feet high when moved . The ones I moved are taller than the eaves of my house now and I have pics of my 5 yr old grandson climbing them. every other year they are covered in blooms. Oh , my home is in Northeast Alabama.

  • Lgsmith
    on Jul 3, 2013

    Oh yeah, forgot to mention my dogwoods are wild, planted(?) by birds eating the seeds.

  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim
    on Jul 3, 2013

    Possibly the climate here as it gets very cold in the winter...and doesn't seem like you get so much cold where you are @Lgsmith ? And I don't know that I have ever seen a dogwood grow wild here....

  • Lgsmith
    on Jul 3, 2013

    Tanya they grow wild all over the south. Some times you can be driving down the road in the spring and the hills and woods will have the blooming trees all over the place. When I was younger you could see wild azaleas (pink and very fragrant )and dogwood growing close together. Not so much now because of all the sub-divisions that are going up. Oh, well progress.

  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim
    on Jul 15, 2013

    @Lgsmith does sound beautiful what will grow wild where you live...don't get the same...we do get wild sweet peas, wild vinca, wild scotchbroom, um...wild dandelions hahas

  • Lgsmith
    on Jul 15, 2013

    Hi Tanya, we too have wild 'sweet peas', wild vinca and lots and lots of dandelions. Don't know what scotchbroom is thou. We have broomsage , used to make hearth brooms. Could it be the same?

  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim
    on Jul 15, 2013

    here is a link to scotch broom https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytisus_scoparius. Its more wild on the coast line. Over there is also this thing called gorse which the captain who came over named George Bennett aintroduced gorse into the local area, which in the following decades went wild and became a nuisance in both the town and in the neighboring countryside. Gorse, a spiny plant, grows so thickly a person cannot walk through it. It's a very oily plant. If a fire strikes, the gorse flares up quickly..but now here is what wiki says about it "Invasive Species[edit] See also: Gorse in New Zealand In many areas of North America (notably California and Oregon), southern South America, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, the common gorse, introduced as an ornamental plant or hedge, has become an invasive species due to its aggressive seed dispersal; it has proved very difficult to eradicate and detrimental in native habitats. Common gorse is also an invasive species in the montane grasslands of Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka.[7] Guess it can survive anywhere but THRIVES near Oregon Dunes/ocean

  • TJ
    on Jul 15, 2013

    Hi, I am sure not understanding the problems with dogwoods that so many people have. In Minnesota, we have a couple different types. Currently we have several red twig dogwoods and I trim them whenever I need to and have cut a few down to about a foot in the spring (at advice of a native landscaper to rejuvenate it). I have not had any problems , except if they get too much sun. They flower & berry every year. The birds love the berries and gift me with seedlings in surprising places.

  • Maggie Lais
    on Jul 15, 2013

    There are many different types of dogwoods, some native to areas in the US, and some from as far away as China or Japan. If you don't know the type of dogwood you have, and you really thought you would be growing a tree-type, it is always possible that the 'leader' was nibbled off or broken off sometime in the past. When the leading or tallest and somewhat central branch is damaged, especially the growing tip, the plant hormones in the lower branches are no longer under the chemical control from the top! (oh, and we thought we were the only beings with hormonal issues! Ha!) As you might have guessed, the lower branches are then free to pop out more branch buds, and they can totally change the flavor of the plant. You may find yourself appreciating the bushier growth, and I imagine that with all those branches, you'll have quite a lovely show of flowers! If you are determined to have a tree-type growth happening, I would suggest you talk with a local landscape person, possibly an arborist, to find out the absolute best way to proceed. I know you can select a healthy branch, and designate it as the Leader. You'll need to encourage it to grow upwards, and you then do strategic pruning to shape the once and future tree to your liking. One note of caution... 'pruning well' is not a cookie cutter proposition, and I have found myself retreating from a freshly pruned tree with a sheepish look on my face, and quite a bit less bravado than when I approached it! Hence, the advice to talk with an expert or 4! I absolutely love dogwoods, from the ones I saw in Wheeling, West Virginia, planted as street trees, to the native ones in the valley at the incredible Yosemite National Park! Lovely yard, btw!

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jul 15, 2013

    TJ, the red twig dogwoods are shrub type dogwoods that do indeed benefit from pruning. (The usual recommendation is to remove one-third of the branches (the oldest ones) each spring because young branches have the best winter color.) Tanya's dogwood is a tree type, and a whole different matter when it comes to pruning.

  • TJ
    on Jul 25, 2013

    Doug, thanks for the info. I will have to do more research. Recently, a native plant landscaper suggested a line of Pagoda Dogwoods to line the south end of our wild prairie area.

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