Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
August 26, 2011 - With our continuing drought in North Texas, I'm planning to transform my small backyard into a bird/small wildlife "refuge". What types of native plants and grasses can I plant in dry, hot Wichita ...
view the full question and answer

Poolside plants for East Texas
June 18, 2015 - What are the best plants, shrubs, ornamental trees, etc. for poolside planting in East Texas?
view the full question and answer

Season to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle from Fallbrook CA
July 25, 2013 - Would like to know which season would be the best to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle in Fallbrook, CA area? I presently have invading bamboo, which I want to get rid of. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Trees for pool area in San Ramon, California
April 24, 2010 - We live in San Ramon. We are remodeling our pool and are looking for a tree that will be 15 feet from a pool. We just removed a pine tree. We have now lost our privacy and see the neighbor's back f...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.