Pruning red twig osier dogwood

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By Kathy Kunemund | PREVIEW Columnist 

 I recently had some inspiration while working on a gardening project at the local public library. I was reminded how important it is to prune certain shrubs to maintain their color. Specifically, I am talking about the red twig osier dogwood (cornus sericea).

The red twig osier dogwood is native to the Rocky Mountains. Its hardiness zone ranges from 2 to 7. Their mature height can reach 8 feet and spread in width to 12 feet. They are hardy plants that are low maintenance and require little water once they are established. They are a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that reproduces by suckers. A sucker is plant growth that grows from the root of the plant. 

Clusters of small, four-petaled, white flowers appear in May and June, with a second bloom around July and August. Small, round white to pale blueish berries begin to show July through September. These berries attract wildlife that love to feed on them. The foliage is green in spring but turns to a reddish-purple color in the fall. The bark on younger shoots will turn red in winter and makes a spectacular display against glistening snow.

Pruning will
maintain color

The brightly colored red bark only occurs on stems that are 3 years old or less. If your shrub is at the overgrown stage, renewal pruning is encouraged as a regular practice in its maintenance. Renewal pruning is a process that will help rejuvenate an overgrown shrub. When there are no longer any thick, overgrown trunks left, you should switch to standard pruning as needed in the spring. Pruning dogwood should always take place in the spring before new growth begins.

First, remove any dead or dying branches. Remove up to one-third of the oldest and thickest stems by taking them down to the base of the shrub. By doing so, new, colorful growth is encouraged from the roots. 

Tools for pruning

Having the right tools for pruning will make your job easier. Keeping them clean and sharp will enhance their performance. These are highly recommended for beginning gardeners:

• Pruning shears are one of the most important to start out with. They will generally cut up to 3/4 inches in diameter.

• Lopping shears longer handles will provide greater leverage to cut branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

• Hand saws will cut branches over 1 inch in diameter. 

Red osier dogwood is recommended for mass planting, hedging and naturalizing landscapes. This is an easy-to-care-for native plant that makes a beautiful addition to any landscape.

Job opening

Colorado State University Extension in Archuleta County announces an AmeriCorps job position for the new year of the 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) AmeriCorps Program. This year’s program will partner with communities across the state of Colorado, providing STEM education to youth in areas such as robotics, weather and animal science. 

Master Food
Safety Advisors 

Do you have a passion for food safety and preservation? Then the Master Food Safety Advisors (MFSA) training is for you. MFSAs receive 30 hours of hands-on, research-tested food safety and preservation instruction. After completing the training and passing a written exam, MFSA volunteers give back 30 hours of service helping others practice safe food handling and preserve food successfully at home. Volunteers conduct demonstrations and assist with workshops, test pressure canner gauges, staff exhibits at county fairs and farmers markets, write articles, and answer phone calls and emails. 

Keep checking the Extension website, Facebook page and these articles for more information. 

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered every other month (February, April, June, August, October and December) from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid, and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at (970) 264-5931 to register.

Visit online

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY and https://www.facebook.com/ArchuletaCounty4H.