How to prune cornus
■ Young stems give the best show of colours and an annual pruning replaces them regularly. Wait until late February or March just as buds begin to break.
■ Cut down all of last year’s stems leaving behind just a short spur holding one or two growth buds.
■ Alternatively, and best for weaker-stemmed plants, remove around one third of the stems every year so there is more branching but no stems older than three years.
■ Cornus will spread by suckering, especially in clay soils. While pruning, dig out unwanted sections.
Prune last year’s stems so the whole plant is ‘stooled’ and reduced to a stump