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Cornus sericea: Red Twig Dogwood

The Red Twig Dogwood is one of my favorite shrubs for winter! This shrub is great for so many reasons! This article will explain traits, growing conditions, planting options, and care of the Red Twig Dogwood.


If you want something other than an evergreen to provide winter interest, this is an excellent option. Red Twig Dogwoods are a large shrub, 7-10’ tall and 5’ wide, much taller than me and hopefully wider too! If the full size variety will not fit in a space, don’t worry! Use the dwarf variety called ‘Arctic Fire’. They produce a green leaf in the spring and a small white flower in the early summer followed by a small blue berry like fruit. Red Twig Dogwoods are great in all seasons, but my favorite is winter.

Growing Conditions

Red Twig Dogwoods are a great option for a variety of spaces and do especially well in wet areas. They can help problem areas that flood occasionally by happily soaking up excess water. While Dogwoods prefer wet conditions, they will tolerate dry sites too. This hardy shrub will handle most environments unlike me. I get a little toasty in summer with my thick coat!

More Information:

  • Zone: 2-7
  • Part-Full Sun
  • Soil: Moist, Well drained
  • Tolerates: Dry Soil, Occasional Drought, Wet Soil, Occasional Flooding
  • Attracts birds & butterflies
  • Native to Illinois

Best ways to plant

My mom likes when we plant them in masses because it is so striking to have a sea of vibrant red contrasting to the white snow. They can be used as hedges and screening plants to create a foliage barrier and structure to a planting bed. We sometimes like to plant them as a specimen plant too when we can use a full-size variety. There is just something striking about a single Red Twig Dogwood working as an anchor in a landscape.

Red Twig Dogwood Care

We do have to make sure that we give Red Twig Dogwoods full sun if we want to enjoy the bright red stems in winter! Pruning these plants is so easy I could do it! Red Twig Dogwoods do best when allowed to show off their natural habit. Too harsh of trimming or shaping, can look like a bad haircut! The best way to keep them looking full of foliage and healthy is to lightly prune them yearly. This process involves cutting out 1/3 of the largest stems at the base of the plant in early spring or fall. This way the shrub has room for fresh new growth. The red stems can them be used in your seasonal winter containers too!

If you want to learn about more plants Click Here!

Thank you for reading!

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