En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - November 28, 2013

From: Bloomingdale, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning, Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Pruning Roughleaf dogwood
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We put 5 rough-leaf dogwoods along our side deck; having been told (by the local, natural plant seller) that they would reach a maximum height of 6 feet. They have grown taller than that (despite some pruning) and are blocking the view from our windows. I see that this website and others predict they will grow much taller than that. Can I cut them back to 6 feet on a regular basis (during winter dormancy?)?

ANSWER:

I routinely trim back my Cornus drummondii (Roughleaf dogwood) in winter every couple of years to prevent them from obscuring my view of a creek below the house.  They seem to suffer no ill effects from loss of up to one fifth of their branches.  The only problem is pruning to maintain an attractive appearance of the bare winter branches.  It might be better to prune every year so that the branches (twigs) removed are small enough to leave no ugly knobs. 

It would be wise to leave a few limbs with their twigs if you perform a major pruning.  If the dogwoods are really tall, prune about half of the branches back to 6 feet the first winter and the other half the second winter.  The half pruned first should have sent out new growth by the second winter.

 

From the Image Gallery


Roughleaf dogwood
Cornus drummondii

More Trees Questions

Moving a large red horse chestnut tree in Jackson MI
April 20, 2012 - I have a red horse chestnut that is maybe 12 inches around, can I move it after the sap goes down about 10 miles to our new place? Sadly, I cannot afford to hire a tree truck. What are its chances?
view the full question and answer

Diagnosis of problem and treatment of damaged Cedar Elm
February 01, 2007 - Part of our mature Cedar Elm looked damaged last summer. We were advised by a landscape designer to spray it with Kocide in late January as a treatment. Is there an alternative to this? Should we h...
view the full question and answer

Stressed live oaks from Lakeway TX
August 19, 2013 - I have some Live Oaks who appear to be stressed (Ball Moss is becoming very prevalent on some of them) during the drought in Central TX. How often and how long should I water them? Thank you very much...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for cemetery plot in Karnes County, TX
April 08, 2007 - I'm looking for a tree for a cemetery plot in Karnes County at Pana Maria. There will be someone to regularly water it. I understand live oak and pecan are native to the area. I assume these would...
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center