When and how much should I prune back our var. dogwood?
I've never pruned mine (it's not very big anyway). I think it's one of those shrubs that you just have to prune "for shape" if you want to. Others may know more than i do, though. :)
I prune mine about twice each summer. It is pruned to about 4 feet tall. Start pruning when it is smaller 'cause then you will be able to get the fullness of the lower branches. Then slowly let it get taller and taller. It won't take many years to get to a mature size.
I've never pruned mine, either, and it's about 7 years old. It's now just getting to a nice size, planted as a small 1 gallon shrub.
I don't think it matters when you prune dogwood but a late summer pruning could result in growth that doesn't have time to toughen up before winter sets in, which could then result in tip kill the following year. A late fall pruning when there's no chance of more growth happening in the season, wouldn't hurt though. Generally a spring blooming shrub is pruned after blooming, and a summer blooming shrub is pruned before leaves emerge. I'm trying to remember when variegated dogwood blooms - they're such non-descript blooms that I don't pay attention to them, but I sure do love the foliage.
When we lived in Ottawa I once picked up a variegated dogwood on a clearance table. It was priced at $1 and looked pretty sad. I'm a sucker for a lost cause (ask hubby, LOL) so I took it home (much like hubby, LOL), pruned off all the dead growth (much like... oh, never mind) and some bad growing branches and planted it. We fondly called it the dollar shrub and it grew with gusto. We left a couple years later but neighbors sent us a picture of it a few years after we left - the dollar shrub had become a monster, easily 8' high and wide. Unfortunately the one I have now isn't such a monster - maybe it's the climate.
I have a similar story about "rescueing" an abused dogwood. Cornus alba 'Gouchaultii' to be exact. Got it for a couple of bucks. A few years later, it's very striking and beautiful, though I wish I planted it in a better spot. I give mine quite a severe pruning each spring, more so because else it will outgrow it's spot. The only downside of spring pruning is you forgo some of the blooms, not that I find the blooms very "showy".
Still, a very nice looking shrub that I wish I had placed in my backyard, so I could better enjoy it. Just love the red branches too.
Thanks all, from what I'm reading, I'll just leave the thing alone.
I have a two Varigated Red Twig Dogwood. They are planted on the Northwest and Northeast corners of my house and grow like the proverbial weed. I have to cut it back drastically every year or I can't pass between the house and my Prunus Triloba (Rose Tree of China). I cut just to a leaf joint and soon it's shooting out again. Best time to prune it is in the early spring. The new growth will have wide flat white flowers that set white berries. I try to leave them for the birds.Even when they got away from me one year and I really pruned them back, they filled in nicely. The new wood is a beautiful spring green and by fall, it "matures" to a deep red color. The winter contrast is really beautiful.I try to keep them in the 6 foot range, not sure how big they would get if I let them go.