Pruning question

Discussion in 'Cornus (dogwoods)' started by Freyja, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. Freyja

    Freyja Active Member

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    Surrey, BC, Canada
    I have four dogwoods (poss. Cornus Alba, see attached; they are all the same) which are about 4 years old. The last two years, I have noticed that once the leaves have come out, each plant sends out tons of huge sucker-like shoots, that completely take over the entire flower bed (and cover our rhodos which are sitting in front and beside the cornus plants). You can see some of them starting in the photo (that growth is only a few weeks old).

    In order to try to keep them a little more sightly, the last couple years I have pruned them throughout the spring/summer (so that I could at least still see my rhodos beside them), and often got at least one huge bag full of cuttings at each pruning (last year I pruned at least 3 times).

    I am assuming that my pruning timing and technique is all wrong (since I really prefer to see my rhodos and was simply trying to contain the wild growth of the dogwoods). So, could someone please let me know:

    a) What is the best time to prune such a fast-growing plant? And am I damaging them by the constant pruning (hacking) throughout the growing season?
    b) Am I actually causing these "suckers" (don't know what else to call them) by incorrect pruning?
    c) Could it be that the species I have is just supposed to be huge, and thus they are the wrong plant for the space?
    d) What is the best way to prune dogwoods? Or is there some resource on pruning (that is fairly basic for new gardeners), that someone could point me to?

    Many thanks in advance!

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