Thursday, November 8, 2012

Accent Landscape with Red Twig Dogwood

Cornus sericea (red twig dogwood) is a flowering plant that native to northern and western America.  Many people grow the red twig because it is eye appealing during all seasons; this is one plant that will add visual interest to your landscape.  

Plant the red twig dogwood where you can view it from a window. The plant features green leaves during the spring and summer and the white flowers bloom from June to August.  The flowers are lovely small cluster blooms that are fragrant and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.

In late summer the white berry fruit appears.  This fruit is attractive to many birds; orioles, finches, bluebirds, cardinals and blue jays.  Enjoy the birds as they forage off the red twig dogwood. In the autumn  eye appealing  reddish purple leaves will appear followed by winter red bark that looks beautiful especially if there is snow on the ground. 

Plant is in early spring after the danger of frost has past. A sunny location is preferred although; the red twig dogwood will tolerate partial sun and shade. 

Choose a growing site that is moist and well drained.  An area that is close to a pond or stream will benefit this plant.  The red twig plant in zone 6 to 8 is medium in size 5 feet in height with similar spread.  In other areas the twigs may grow to the height of 10 feet.  Once the twigs mature the under the soil stolens will grow in thickly and create dense branches.  You can also grow in urn like containers as long as the soil is moist with good drainage.

Plant the red twig dogwood as an accent for your landscape or use it for erosion control.

Dig a hole that is three times the width of the same depth of the nursery container. Raise the center of the hole by two inches, forming an elevated mound in the center of the hole.  Shake the root ball lightly to release some of the dirt and use your hands to gently loosen the roots.  Do this especially if the roots are entwined as it will encourage the roots to grow outward. 

Hydrate the dogwood root ball in a bucket of tepid water a half hour before you plant.  Then plant by setting the root ball in the center of the hole on top of the mounded dirt. The elevated soil will prevent overcrowding of the roots.

Cover the roots with three inches of compost mixed with soil. Water the roots. When water subsides, continue filling the hole with the remaining dirt. Water the dogwood again so that the soil is evenly moist.  

Retain moisture and to discourage weed growth, by surround the dogwood with three inches of organic mulch; pine needles, grass clippings, wood chips or mulched leaf matter.

Keep the soil evenly moist.  Water daily with drip irrigation, water in the morning and late afternoon to prevent summer drought conditions as this will cause the red twig to suffer stress.

Learn how to prune your red twig dogwood by viewing this YouTube video: 


  1. Keep soil moist throughout growing season (spring, summer, autumn)
  2. Apply three inches of mulch in autumn.
  3. Fertilizer in spring
  4. Plant the red twig dogwood in US zones: 3 through 8.
  5. Red twig dogwood is deciduous.
  6. The twigs are plyable and make for attractive wreaths and holiday decorations.

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