How to Prune Kousa Dogwood Trees


Small and late-flowering kousa dogwoods (Cornus kousa) are slow growers, but the results they produce are worth your efforts to grow them. Their tiny, star-shaped blossoms come later than other dogwoods. When first flowering, they are pale green, but eventually they turn a luminous white that appears to glow in the dark. They are a delicate vision at twilight in late spring. Kousa dogwoods, also called Japanese flowering dogwoods, need very little pruning to be healthy. They can be planted in the landscape as a large shrub or a small tree, depending on how you prune and shape them.

Things You'll Need

  • Kousa dogwood
  • Gloves
  • Short-handled pruning shears
  • Long-handled pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Yard waste bags
  • Prune when the kousa dogwood is dormant, in late fall or early winter. Do not prune when the tree is flowering in the spring, or you will make it vulnerable to dogwood borers, one of the very few pests that seriously affect it.

  • Think of the kousa dogwood in thirds. To encourage a shrublike appearance, trim off the top third of the tree with long-handled pruning shears to promote new branch growth near the ground. Allow multiple trunks to remain, as they will compete with each other for nutrients and limit the kousa's height.

  • Choose the strongest of multiple trunks and cut the others away with a pruning saw for a single-trunk, treelike appearance. Snip off branches on the lower third of the remaining trunk with pruning shears and the tree will grow taller, faster.

  • Allow the kousa to grow for the rest of the year without any further pruning except for deadwood or storm damage as it occurs. Initially, kousa branches will grow vertically, but strong lateral growth will develop as the tree matures, giving a beautiful, broad reach without any further assistance.

  • Cut branch refuse into manageable pieces and place in yard waste bags for disposal or add to your compost heap.

Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, plant kousa dogwoods in a spot where they get morning and evening sun but partial shade in the afternoon.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit dogwood bloom image by Jon Yuschock from
Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • How to Prune a Red-Twigged Dogwood

    Many different types of plants or shrubs can be added to your outdoor living space to help improve the appearance and grandeur...

  • About Kousa Dogwood

    The Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) has a reputation as being tolerant to colder regions of North America and for its resistance to...

  • Why Isn't My Kousa Dogwood Blooming?

    The kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a large shrub or small tree enjoyed for its bark, long-lasting flowers, form, fall coloring and...

  • When to Prune a Dogwood Shrub

    The flowering dogwood, scientifically known as Cornus florida, originated in the eastern United States, and is prized by gardeners for its manageable...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Make a Vertical Clay Pot Garden

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!