Cornus sericea, or Red Osier Dogwood, is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub native to much of the Northern and Western United States. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to 5 inches (12.7 cm) long, opposite with 5-7 pairs of lateral veins. Shrubs will reach up to 10 feet (3.08 m) tall. The plant spreads by underground stolons to form large clumps. They are particularly interesting for their dark red stems in winter. When planted with yellow–twig dogwoods, the effect is a winter color show stopper. They are very easy to grow whether in containers or in the landscape. Plants are hardy in USDA zones 2-7.
Blooming Time: Red-Twig Dogwoods bloom in mid-spring here in zone 7. The flowers are in terminal cymes up to 2 inches across. Flowers are followed by white berries.
Culture: Cornus sericea shrubs here in zone 7 need partial shade and a moist soil. Although they are not very fussy about soil type, they do need supplemental water in our very hot summers here. We prepared the soil by adding 6 inches of peat moss to the Oklahoma red clay soil and worked that in to a depth of 12 inches (30 cm). The first year they where kept moist and fertilized once a month. Now that they are established, we water them only during drought conditions and still fertilize them monthly. During the fall months, their color ripens to a reddish-purple and the winter color of the stems is blood red. There are many cultivars out there, and all have some variation in leaf color and stem color.
Propagation: Cornus sericea shrubs are very easy to propagate from cuttings and from seed.
Cornus sericea was featured as Plant of the Week April 16-22, 2010.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.