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Dogwood Trees

Q.Dogwood Kousa Pruning

Zone 12533 | Anonymous added on September 25, 2018 | Answered

Hello there,

I have explored through your terrific site in some detail. I was interested in learning more about a heretofore unidentified tree in the front of my house. I have learned it is a Kousa Dogwood. The red bumpy berries helped in the identification.

The tree was installed by a landscaper about 14 years ago. It has thrived but we have never done anything with it and as a result it is in desperate need of a pruning and cut back. It is terribly top heavy sagging greatly from its center after a rainstorm, or the occasional unseasonable snowfall we get in the Hudson Valley of NY. In fact, a heavy snow will drag down the edges from its center despite the branches being bare.

In short, it does not look as decorative as it might. More importantly, I may be setting it up for a disastrous split with the weight of water or snow.

I have encountered conflicting opinion regarding the best time to prune my Kousa Dogwood as follows:

“Gardening Know How Dogwood Care – How To Grow Dogwood Trees”
Nikki Tilley

Flowering dogwood trees are considered “bleeders,” which means they bleed sap [7], if pruned during late winter. Summer is an ideal time to take care of any pruning tasks that may be needed since these plants do not bleed sap during this time.


Gardening Know How Dogwood Tree Pruning – How And When To Trim A Dogwood Tree
Jackie Carroll

When to Trim a Dogwood Tree
Part of proper dogwood pruning involves knowing when to trim a dogwood tree. In areas where boring insects [2] are a problem, never prune a dogwood tree in spring. The wounds created by pruning cuts provide an entry point for these devastating insects.
In addition, if pruned while the tree is actively growing in spring and summer, the wounds bleed copious amounts of messy sap [3]. Therefore, the best time to prune a dogwood tree is in late fall and winter while the tree is dormant.

Your anticipated assistance is greatly appreciated.

Francis X.

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Answered on September 25, 2018

There are several factors at play when choosing when to prune. While it is true that dogwood is a "bleeder" of sap, it is now known that it isn't harmful to the tree. Kousa dogwood pruning is recommended after blooms fade. The native dogwood, Cornus florida, should be pruned while dormant and only if absolutely necessary. If you really prize this tree, it is worth having a certified arborist do the work. They have the tools and the knowledge to prune correctly and safely. If you are intent on doing it yourself, study up on correct techniques. There are good YouTube videos from some of our universities. Here is an article to get you started. http://rocklandcce.org/resources/pruning-trees-and-shrubs

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