Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea (Photo credit –

Many of you are familiar with Redosier (Red Twig) Dogwood although you probably don’t know its botanical name, Cornus sericea. You’ve seen it in natural areas and you may even have it in your landscape because the red branches are an appealing sight against a snowy white backdrop. This large flowering shrub will grow 6-12’ high and wide.

Cornus sericea 'Silver and Gold' flower and foliage closeup

Cornus sericea ‘Silver and Gold’ flower and foliage closeup in client’s garden

Cornus sericea fruit

Cornus sericea fruit (Photo credit –

The leaves are usually a medium-sized, oval, rich green that turn maroon in the fall. The white clusters of flowers become pea–sized white berries that are an important source of food for resident and migrating birds in the fall. Cornus sericea is stoloniferous, thus an excellent choice for soil retention on slopes and in rain gardens.

Cornus sericea 'Cardinal'

Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’

Stem color varies by cultivar and that of C.s.’Cardinal’ is a bright coral red. Two shorter cultivars are ‘Isanti’, growing only five feet high, and ‘Silver and Gold’, growing 5-7’ high and wide. It is distinguished by its golden yellow stems and variegated leaves (that turn yellow in the fall), thus adding another season of interest to the landscape. There is a cultivar named ‘Bailei’ that is a clumper, therefore a better choice in the average landscape.

Grow this dogwood in full sun to part shade and in soil that is barely moist to wet. The 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.

Next time, I’ll tell you all about Witch Hazel.