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Redosier Dogwood

Tips on using this colorful plant, also known as redtwig dogwood.

Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Hardiness: USDA Zones 2 to 7

Prized for its colorful red, yellow or green stems in winter, this shrubby dogwood also makes an excellent mid-sized screen in summertime. Needs pruning in order to keep its brightly-colored multi-stems. Produces white flowers in late spring to early summer and white fruit in late summer, but both are rather insignificant in comparison to the stem color. Has purple-red fall color that is variable among cultivars and climatic conditions. Plant size is seven to nine feet tall and as wide.

How to use it: In masses, hedge or screen, on banks or as a specimen plant. Can also use in containers. Place in the landscape where it can be appreciated in the winter, e.g. within viewing distance from a window. Combine with complementary winter-foliage plants, including evergreen conifers and red-berried hollies, or create a mixed planting of different C. sericea cultivars. Also plant in front of an evergreen background to exploit the colorful stems. In winter, take cuttings of red or yellow stems and use in floral arrangements or mixed containers; they will hold their color for a good length of time without needing supplemental water.

Culture: Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but does best in a moist soil. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Prune back every one, two to three years to maintain colorful stems; cut back close to ground. May spread by suckers; can be controlled by digging. Propagated by seed and cuttings. May have problems with canker or leaf spot, especially in climates with high heat and humidity.

Special Notes: Durable shrubby dogwood valued for its colorful winter stems and rapid-growth habit. May be confused with C. alba. Attracts wildlife, including birds and butterflies.

Selected Cultivars

  • 'Kelseyi'. Red-stemmed cultivar that is low-growing and compact. Reaches 24 to 30 inches tall.

  • 'Cardinal'. Has brilliant red stems. Reaches eight to ten feet tall and wide. Stem color may not be as brilliant in warmer zones.

  • 'Flaviramea'. Gold-stemmed selection.

  • Tatarian dogwood (Cornus alba). A deciduous shrubby dogwood that also features the handsome red stems in winter. Not as rapidly spreading as C. sericea. Has yellowish-white flowers and white fruit. Use in mass plantings. Reaches eight to ten feet tall and about five to ten feet wide. Cultivars include 'Bloodgood' and 'Sibirica'. USDA Zones 3 to 7.

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