As an Amazon Affiliate, We Earn From Qualifying Sales. Read Full Disclosure Here

As you know, Pruning is important for maintaining the shape & size of the tree and its health. You should remove any dead or diseased branches immediately to prevent spreading. This is particularly important for Red Osier Dogwood, which can become large if left unpruned.

Plus, if you want to encourage the growth of new branches and flowers, consider pruning back your tree, which will result in a more vibrant & attractive plant. Thus, here I will tell you how to prune Red Osier Dogwood. In this article, We will look at the tips & techniques of pruning a tree and when you should be pruning Red Osier Dogwood.

When to Prune Red Osier Dogwood

Seasonal Timing

Trust me; you should be pruning your tree during the dormant season to avoid hampering or hindering your tree growth. The best time to prune Red Osier Dogwood is in late winter or early spring, when it will be dormant.

I usually like to prune my trees between late February and early April to encourage new growth and maintain the shape & size of it. It would help if you were pruning it within this time frame for the best reason, whether it is a shrub, plant, or tree.

3 Signs that indicate it’s time to prune

If you are not paying attention to the signs that indicate you should be pruning your Red Osier Dogwood, you may soon end up with a large and quite unattractive tree. Therefore, pay attention to the signs and prune your tree at the right time.

  • Dead, damaged, or diseased branches
  • Branches that are crossing each other (Overcrowded branches)
  • The Centre of the shrub doesn’t receive much sunlight.

Weather considerations

Sometimes even in the right season, you should avoid pruning back any tree because of weather events. It would help if you never pruned your tree on days when the temperature is below freezing, as this will directly damage your Red Osier Dogwood. Also, you should avoid pruning your tree during hot & dry weather, which may stress it.

Tools for Pruning Red Osier Dogwood

It would help to have some gears, tools, or wear before pruning back your red Osier dogwood tree. With the right tool or equipment, you will likely avoid ending up with wrong/ improper cuttings or facing an accident. You must have all the five tools and equipment mentioned below to prune back your tree, as these are essentials.

  • Pruning shears: If you’re looking to cut small branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter, get shears. Shears are best for cutting small branches.
  • Lopping shears: If you need to cut a larger branch up to 2 inches in diameter, you must have lopping shears too.
  • Pruning saw: Yes, having a pruning saw is a must in case of thicker branches. You might also have to cut thick branches due to disease or infestation. If this is the case, make sure you contact the professional to handle the situation and cut thick ones. 
  • Gloves: Now, you want to avoid getting hurt or cut while handling any of the above gears. You must protect your hand by wearing gloves to avoid scratches and cuts.
  • Safety equipment: if you are pruning a medium to large size tree, it’s better that you also have eye protection and a face shield to protect you from flying debris. To do that, get a proper safety helmet.

5 Pruning Techniques for Red Osier Dogwood


If you need to selectively remove any branch of your Red Osier Dogwood to reduce the density of the shrub, you should consider this technique.

Thinning is a better technique for Red Osier Dogwood that requires proper sunlight penetration to the shrub’s center and promotes new growth. Ideally, this technique is more suited for trees that are either overcrowded or have few crossed branches.

Heading back

Regarding dogwood, you will always want to encourage bushier growth. If this is the case with you as well, consider heading back pruning technique which involves cutting back the tips of the branches.

This technique is perfect for all types of trees that have become leggy or overgrown. For me, the heading back pruning technique helps maintain the shape of my lawn shrubs and promote new growth. However, I often do this in early April.

Renewal pruning

Nobody likes to see their tree infested. However, it doesn’t mean that you will never be able to overcome that. If you notice any old, damaged, or diseased branches on your Red Osier Dogwood, consider removing them.

You must perform renewal pruning prone once a year at least, especially with the older trees, which involves removing old branches for damage once to avoid infestations.

Also, this technique is perfect for trees that their owners last pruned a while ago. In one sentence, the technique of renewal pruning helps to rejuvenate the shrub and promote healthy growth.


If your Red Osier Dogwood is very young or you have just planted It, consider pinching it occasionally. Pinching a plant using your finger is a pruning technique that promotes better growth and maintains the shrub’s shape.

This technique is far more effective when the tree is young than developed ones. So the next time you say hello to your small Red Osier Dogwood, consider giving it a quick pinch off the tips of new growth using your finger.

Topiary Pruning

Lastly, give your tree any specific shape or form, just like you might have noticed in many ornamental gardens. If this is the case, you must follow a topiary pruning technique.

This technique is widely popular among landscapers who use the Red Osier Dogwood tree as a focal point in their garden/landscape. I’ve recently shared 7 Landscaping Ideas With Red Twig Dogwood, that you use to decide the best option for you.

Since giving any tree or plant a specific shape or form requires advanced pruning skills, I recommend hiring a professional. 

Also Read: How To Prune Red Twig Dogwood Bushes

How To Prune Red Osier Dogwood

No, if you have followed all the tips & guidelines that I have told you in the above section, you can move on to prune your tree. Therefore let’s take a quick look at how to prune Red Osier Dogwood.

Preparing the Plant

I used to like to prepare my trees before pruning them. It would help if you were also doing this by inspecting your Red Osier Dogwood. During the inspection, if you notice any dead, damaged, or diseased branches, you must remove them and prevent the spread of infestations.

Other than this, you should also inspect for branches crossing or rubbing against each other. If this is the case, you need to take action as soon as possible because rubbing or crossing branches cause wounds that may lead to infection, further making your tree prone to infestation.

Any branches that are growing from it. Many times, I also saw branches that were thinner than a pencil. If this is the case with your tree, you need to remove them as those are unlikely to produce any significant growth.

Cleaning the Tools

Before you use any tool or equipment on your Red Osier Dogwood, you must clean it properly. Make sure to use sharp and clean cleaning tools every time. If you use dull or dirty tools, your Red Osier Dogwood may suffer from damage or the spread of diseases.

I use the like to clean my tools with water and household bleach. You can also consider rubbing alcohol as well. If you have this, consider sharpening The Blade using a sharpening stone or file.

Finally, you will also want to lubricate all moving parts of the tool using lubricant or oil to keep it working for an extended period and in good working condition.

Identifying Branches to Prune

If you’ve followed the first two steps properly, the next step is to identify the branches you need to prune on your Red Osier Dogwood. I usually start with very old branches that look weak/dead.

Also, you should remove all branches growing toward the plant’s center, which may prevent sunlight and airflow from reaching the tree’s interior. This step is very important with your Red Osier Dogwood as it can grow very big if not managed properly and suffer from a lack of Sunlight penetration at the center of its shrubs.

Finally, remove any branch that looks or grows at very odd angles or the ones that are vigorously competing for space.

Cutting Technique

Now you also need to follow the right cutting technique or Pruning technique depending on the branch thickness. When cutting branches on your tree, you should use a technique known as thinning.

In this process, you will have to cut all branches back to the base or to a lateral branch that is at least one-third the size of the branch being removed. It is also important to prevent tearing the bark by making an undercut about 6 inches from the trunk and then cutting through the branch from the top.

Finishing Touches

Lastly, you must remove all the prone branches and debris from the current area around your tree to prevent infestation.

Also, make sure to water your tree properly to help it recover from the stress of Pruning. Even though your tree is dormant while you are pruning, it’s still important that you provide the nutrients & water for proper recovery.

Aftercare for Pruned Red Osier Dogwood

When you have successfully pruned back your tree, there are a few things that you need to do to ensure it stays healthy and vibrant. Firstly, make sure the soil around your tree is moist and well-draining.

It would help if you were watering your regularly, especially during the growing season and dry spells. You should know that this particular tree/variety prefers moist soil, but don’t overwater it as it may lead to root rot.

Consider using a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10 and applying it in the early spring just before new growth appears. Fertilizing a tree once a year, especially in early spring, is very important to promote healthy growth and vibrant colors. You will also want to use proper pest and disease control.

Therefore, ensure you are inspecting and monitoring your tree occasionally. If you notice any signs of infestation or disease, consider consulting a professional for proper diagnosis & treatment.

The most common pests you will likely encounter with your dogwood trees are aphids, whiteflies, spider mites on dogwood tree, and scale insects.

Some common diseases that have been noticed include leaf spots and powdery mildew, which can be prevented by not watering the foliage and providing good air circulation around your tree. To control pests, you should consider using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Related: How To Take Care Of A Dogwood Tree


In this article, I have tried my best to tell you how you should be pruning your tree using different techniques at what time. It would help if you only pruned your tree in the late winter or early spring.

Also, make sure you use sharp and clean tools when cutting branches of your tree to avoid diseases. After pruning your tree, collect and remove all the debris around your tree to prevent disease & pests affecting the other plant.

Also, if you don’t have any previous experience with handling pruning shears and tools or need to learn how to prune a tree/plant, it is better to consult a professional.

After reading this article, I hope you have learned everything about pruning a tree. If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it. Your share will help many people with pruning techniques and the right time to prune a tree.

Check out our other helpful guides and articles on dogwood tree care and management on this website. See you in the next post, till then, take care and goodbye.