Pruning for Good Foliage

Hazel, elder, willow and colored-stemmed dogwoods can all withstand hard pruning. Remove old stems in late winter or early spring to encourage new growth.

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Step 1: Plan for Future Growth

Pruning for Foliage

Pruning for Foliage

Elder is a vigorous plant. Most of this growth was made during the previous year. In alternate years all the stems can be pruned back in early spring to a low framework near its base.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Elder is a vigorous plant—most of the growth seen here was made during the previous year. In alternate years all the stems can be pruned back in early spring to a low framework near its base.

Step 2: Remove Flowering Stems

One Stem at a Time

One Stem at a Time

When pruning to improve foliage, prune each stem back to two or three pairs of buds above the base of the previous year's wood.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Prune each stem back to two or three pairs of buds above the base of the previous year’s wood. Although you will get the best foliage by pruning in this way, you are also removing the flowering stems.

Step 3: Trim the Old Wood

Cut Out the Old

Cut Out the Old

When pruning to improve foliage, cut out old, congested wood in the center of the plant right down to the ground. Also, remove any stems that are badly positioned, or growing toward the middle.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cut old, congested wood in the center of the plant right down to the ground. Also remove any stems that are badly positioned, or growing toward the middle.

Step 4: Make Smooth, Clean Cuts

Clean Cuts

Clean Cuts

When pruning for good foliage, make smooth, clean cuts, using loppers on all branches that are more than 1/2 inch in diameter. Use a curved pruning saw on thick branches, or where you need to make a cut in an awkward spot.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use loppers on all branches that are more than 1⁄2 in (1 cm) in diameter. Use a curved pruning saw on very thick branches, or where you need to make a cut in an awkward spot.

Step 5: Maintain Your Pruning

Keep Pruned

Keep Pruned

Pruning encourages vigorous growth, despite the finished result looking sparse. Once flowering stems have been removed, the spring-flowering plant will not bloom or produce berries in the same year.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pruning will encourage vigorous growth, despite the finished result looking sparse. Now the flowering stems have been removed, this spring-flowering plant will not bloom or produce berries this year.

Step 6: The Payoff

Early Summer Payoff

Early Summer Payoff

After pruning, by early summer, the elder's stems will have grown by three feet or more. The fresh beautifully variegated leaves will unfurl to make a compact, eye-catching feature in the garden.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

By early summer, the elder’s stems will have grown by 3 ft (1 m) or more, and the fresh, beautifully variegated leaves will unfurl to make a compact, eye-catching feature in the garden.