Red Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood

Cornus sericea

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist, Wet
Color: White
Fragrance: No
Height: 6 - 10 feet
Spacing: 5 - 10 feet


Red Twig Dogwood or Red Osier Dogwood is an upright-spreading, suckering shrub that typically grows in the absence of pruning to 6-9 feet tall with a slightly larger spread. It is typically found growing in wet swampy areas, wetland margins or along lakes and rivers. Ovate to lanceolate, medium to dark green leaves acquire interesting shades of red to orange eventually fading to purple in autumn. Reddish stems turn bright red in winter and are particularly showy against a snowy backdrop. Tiny, fragrant, white flowers appear in flat-topped clusters in late spring, with sparse, intermittent, additional flowering sometimes continuing into summer. Flowers give way to clusters of) drupes in summer. Fruit is quite attractive to birds and is generally considered to have as much if not more ornamental interest than the flowers.

Best grown in organically rich, fertile, consistently moist soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, including swampy or boggy conditions. Trim roots with a spade and promptly remove root suckers if colonial spread is undesired. Best stem color occurs on young stems. Although pruning is not required, many gardeners choose to remove 20-25% of the oldest stems in early spring of each year to stimulate growth of new stems which will display the best color. As an alternative to annual pruning, some gardeners prune all stems close to the ground (coppice to 8 inches) in early spring every 2-3 years to renew. Any loss of flowers through spring pruning is not terribly significant since the small flowers of this dogwood are rather ordinary. This shrub develops fairly quickly and tolerates temporary flooding. It should not be located at sites that are hot and dry.

Habitats include moist sandy thickets, shrub swamps, shrubby bogs, sandy areas along rivers, fens, inter-dunal swales, marshes, and sandy ditches. This shrub is often used as a landscaping plant and there are many cultivars available.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Susceptible to leaf and twig blights, canker and leaf spots.
  Scale, leaf miners and bagworms are occasional insect pests.
Further Information

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 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
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 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries