Growing it for winter twig color? Cut it April 1!

Redtwig dogwood, yellowtwigs (Cornus species and varieties), various willows, Japanese Kerria are often grown primarily for the bright color they bring to the winter landscape. Since the youngest branches have the most color, regular hard cuts are a good move, and early spring the best time to do it.

"Cut hard" means what?

Even when we show people what "cut hard" is, they say, "No, not really!"

Doubt us as you will, but believe the horticulturists at Chicago Botanic Garden. These are their willows.

Below: Salix purpurea, the blue arctic willow. It's prized for the winter purple of its young stems. During the winter, these were over six feet tall and every bit as thick as the clustered stubs indicate.


For more of this, look at what we do in spring to summer-blooming shrubs.

Those who have come to our garden workshops know we often say, "Good, a brave cut. But we don't want 50 butt ends to become 100. Cut it even more. Leave only main trunks."

Below: We grinned to see this evidence (arrow) of a cut made and then re-made another inch lower. This is an S. elaeagnos, the rosemary willow, a big shrub with new wood that's downy red-orange in winter. Cut this hard, they'll jump back up to six feet or more by midsummer and every stem will be new and colorful next winter.