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Native Plant of the Week: Red Twig Dogwood

Family: Cornaceae


Name: Cornus sericea - Red Twig Dogwood


Bloom Time: May - June


Flower: White


Fruit: Summer


Fruit Color: White


Soil Condition: Average - Wet


Light: Partial Sun


Height: 6-9' tall by 5-10' wide


Native Range: North America including Long Island


Zone: 2 - 7

Photos: Form (Jim Robbins, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), flower and leaves (Superior National Forest, CC BY 2.0)


Red Twig Dogwood is a four-season shrub. The red twigs are stunning in the winter, followed by white flowers in the spring which turn to white berries in the summer. The fall color of burgundy and purple is gorgeous. This beauty grows quite rapidly and spreads by underground stems. It is not a no-maintenance shrub (see Maintenance). Great for rain gardens and controlling erosion. Deer and rabbits may browse young plants.


Maintenance: This is not a maintenance-free shrub! Prune the entire plant back in early spring to stimulate more growth. Root prune with a sharp spade to control the spread, and remove diseased or dead wood. Prone to canker, leaf spots, and a few other diseases. Even though it is quite adaptable to many soil types, it will benefit from compost, as it prefers rich soil.


Benefits: Host plant to Spring Azure, Summer Azure, and Gray Hairstreak butterflies, special value to native specialized bees (Adrena), birds and other wildlife eat the berries


Noteworthy Cultivars: 'Cardinal' - 6-9' tall


Companion Plants: Evergreens make a great backdrop.