Striking Stems

Spring Flowers Beneath Dogwoods and Willows

Spring Flowers Beneath Dogwoods and Willows

Many dogwood and willow varieties have brightly colored stems that are a boon in the winter garden. The young growth is the most impressive, so prune hard to encourage bright new shoots. Plant spring-flowering bulbs beneath your dogwoods and willows to give an extra splash of color.

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Many dogwood and willow varieties have brightly colored stems that are a boon in the winter garden. The young growth is the most impressive, so prune hard to encourage bright new shoots. Plant spring-flowering bulbs beneath your dogwoods and willows to give an extra splash of color.

Materials Needed:

  • willow plant
  • clippers
  • pruning shears or saw
  • all-purpose granular fertilizer

Willow Wands

Willows (Salix) look great grown as pollards. Let a single stem grow to about 5 ft (1.5 m) tall, and prune so that new growth develops at the top, creating a head of colorful young stems.

When to Start: Late winter or early spring
At Their Best: Winter
Time to Complete: 1 hour

Remove Weak Growth

When the leaves fall in autumn, neaten the plant by pruning out weak and damaged stems, and remove any shoots from the main trunk.

Pruning Willows

Pruning Willows

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Prune to One or Two Buds

Before new growth appears in spring, use clippers to cut back every stem to one or two buds. Use a pruning saw to remove larger material.

Prune Willow Stems

Prune Willow Stems

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

After Pruning

The shrub will look strange after pruning but don’t panic; it will quickly regrow. Give it an annual feed of all-purpose granular fertilizer, worked into the soil around the base of the plant. Use the cut stems to support perennials in spring and summer.

Prune Willow Shrubs to Promote Growth

Prune Willow Shrubs to Promote Growth

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Dramatic Dogwoods

Dogwoods (Cornus species) are grown for their bare winter stems, which can be green, red, orange, or bright yellow. The youngest growth is the most vibrant, so prune them almost to the ground every year to encourage new stems.

Annual Pruning

In late winter or early spring, prune dogwoods back by cutting all stems to one or two buds above the ground. Use clippers for the thinner stems, and shears or a pruning saw for larger ones.

Pruning a Dogwood Tree

Pruning a Dogwood Tree

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Leave an Open Structure

New stems will grow from the top buds left behind. If there are several buds, remove those facing into the center of the plant by rubbing them off with your fingers. This prevents the new stems from becoming too congested, which will weaken their winter display.

New Stem Growth of a Pruned Dogwood

New Stem Growth of a Pruned Dogwood

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Alternative Approach

Instead of pruning your dogwoods entirely to the ground, you can prune out every third stem. The plant will look less scalped through the summer, although the winter show will not be as dramatic as a result.

Pruning Tips for a Dogwood

Pruning Tips for a Dogwood

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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