How to divide dogwood shrubs (Cornus)
Propagation by division is one of the easiest methods to multiply plants. In this article we will learn how to divide dogwood shrubs (Cornus).
In general, this method is done by lifting the plant and separating it into parts near its base. The idea is that each new division has roots and shoots forming a new complete plant.
Cornus shrub species that has shoots growing from their base are excellent candidates for propagation using this method.
There are numerous varieties of dogwoods of this type, and these shrubs are very popular for their vibrantly colored stems.
In this case I will divide a Cornus alba sibirica (has red twigs), but I use the same procedure to split Cornus flaviramea, Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’, Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’, Cornus sanguinea, etc.
Without further ado, let’s get to the action.
For the demonstration in this guide I used plants that are growing in pots. I will split these two in four. The same principles explained here are also applicable to larger specimens that are growing in the ground.
We can see all those branches growing from the base. Typically, when we have this growth pattern, we have a plant that we can divide.
In this article
When can we divide dogwoods?
The best time of year to divide Dogwoods is during their dormant period, when they are leafless. That is, somewhere between late fall and early spring.
How to split
First we have to lift the plant to see its roots.
I remove the soil around the roots until I reach the base of the trunk. This will allow me to see where I can cut to split.
Since this is a small plant, I’ll just split it in two. With the help of a saw, I cut the base of the trunk in the middle, vertically.
There are roots that will get lost, but that’s okay as this bush has lots of thin, healthy roots capable of feeding both plants.
Take this factor into account when dividing plants, before cutting check that there are good roots attached to both parts.
(Yes, I need new gloves…)
Plant the divisions
Now it’s time to plant the divisions. The process is the same as planting any plant.
I use a pot suitable for the size of the new dogwood.
I fill the bottom with generic potting compost, put the plant in place and add more compost around and on top of the roots.
We must not compact the soil too much, just enough for the plant to be stable in the pot.
At this stage we can (and should) prune the branches of the new plants, reducing their size. This has two objectives:
- It reduces the stress of the plant when it starts to sprout in the spring. With fewer sprouts, there will be less transpiration and less need from the capacity of the roots that have been reduced as well. Thus, the plant is in a better balance;
- It reduces the risk of the plant being disturbed by the wind when the roots are establishing themselves as it is a more compact plant after pruning.
Water and protect
Finally, I water well so that the soil makes good contact with the roots and the plant can hydrate.
I place it in an outdoor but relatively sheltered location until the Cornus grows in the spring.
It is also easy to propagate dogwoods by cuttings and I have a guide about it, just follow the link.
Please let me know your thoughts about this step by step guide in the section below. Thank you.