CORNUS: Twig Dogwood Varieties
Redtwig Dogwoods make up the most popular Dogwood shrubs. They show off brightly colored decorative bark in winter when many other plants are resting. Twig color varies from dark maroon to coral to yellow depending on species and variety. Most have green leaves with a few variegated forms available. Small white flowers occur in clusters in spring followed by white to blue fruit in late summer.
Generally, Redtwig Dogwoods grow fast to 8-12’ tall & wide with dense branching and foliage. A few lower-growing and dwarf forms are available as well. Most grow very fast, are very tough, adapting to many different soils and light conditions and withstanding temperatures as low as -50 degrees.
Twig Dogwood Varieties
Also, be sure to visit our feature on Native Twig Dogwoods
Tatarian Dogwoods: Cornus alba
Leaves are green with white edges. Dark red winter branches. Grows 6-8’ x 6-8’. Probably the same as ‘Elegantissima’.
Really neat deep green crinkled leaves are stacked on stiff upright branches. Fall color is dark purple, almost black, and winter twigs are dark purple. Grows 4’ x 4’.
Green leaves with white edges & dark red winter branches. Smaller than ‘Argenteo-Marginata’, 5-6’.
Gold & chartreuse leaves spring & summer, turn red in autumn. Branches are dark red. Grows 7’ x 7’.
Bloodtwig Dogwoods — Cornus sanguinea
Lime green leaves turn gold & peach in fall. Branches are gold with coral blush in winter. Grows 3-4’ x 3-4’.
Looks like a fire in winter — gold branches in the center radiate to burning red tips. Leaves are bright green, turning gold & orange in fall. Grows 5-6’.
Redtwig or Osier Dogwoods — Cornus sericea
Dark green leaves turn red & purple before falling in autumn. Winter branches are deep purple. Growth is upright & vigorous, but ‘Bailey’ suckers less than the species. Grows 8-10’ x 8-10’.
Dark green leaves with nice fall color. Winter branches are bright coral pink, much brighter than most C. sericeas. Grows 6-8’.
Solid green leaves turn gold in autumn. Branches are lime green in summer & turn gold when winter chills. Grows 8-9’.
Leaves are green with thick gold edges & turn pink & red in fall. Branches are dark red in winter. Grows 10’ x 10’.
Green leaves turn red & purple in fall, branches are dark red. Nice mid-size selection, grows 5-6’.
Very slender branches turn red & purple in winter. Green leaves turn red in fall. Dwarf selection, reliably growing only 2’ x 2’.
‘Silver & Gold’
Yellow-twig variety with white & gold leaves. Grows 6-8’.
FACTS: TWIG DOGWOODS
Genus: Cornus alba, Cornus sanguinea, Cornus sericea (C. stolonifera)
Common: Tatarian Dogwood, Bloodtwig Dogwood, Redtwig or Red Osier Dogwood
Origin: Cornus alba — native to Siberia & Northern China, Cornus sanguinea native to Europe & Western Asia, Cornus sericea native to Oregon & most of North America, excluding the south from Texas to Florida.
Characteristics: Three species of Cornus prized for brightly colored winter bark. Bark ranges from gold to red to black, but fades when temperatures warm in spring. Leaves are simple, some green & others variegated with white, gold or pink. If planted in sun, many Twig Dogwoods have pretty red to purple fall color. Small white flowers occur in clusters and bloom in summer. White or purple berries follow in autumn. Most are multi-stemmed suckering shrubs (they send up new branches from the ground).
Size: Varies from 12” to 12’ depending on variety.
Culture: Sun, part shade. Prune oldest branches (or the whole plant if you wish to control height) to the ground in March to encourage new growth that colors well the following winter.
- Cornus alba is best in moist well drained soil.
- Cornus sanguinea requires well-drained soil.
- Cornus sericea is very adaptable to differing soils and can even grow in standing water. It’s often used in rain gardens.
None should be planted close to a house because the root systems grow so quickly.
- Suckering (sending up multiple branches from the ground) is a problem if you wish to grow other plants close by. Black Spot & Canker can be problems.
- Black spot is treated by cleaning up fallen diseased leaves & spraying bare branches with dormant spray. Also increased air circulation around the plant can help.
- Canker should be pruned out if discovered. There is no treatment, but plants generate new branches from the ground, so they will usually recover. Read more about Botryosphaeria Canker and Dieback
- Branch color fading — old wood develops brown bark. Prune out oldest branches (or all branches) to the ground in March. They will grow back and be much more vibrant the following winter.