Red-osier Dogwood

Cluster of small white flowers and leaves

This Shrub is a Stunning Choice for Yards or Gardens

Red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a resilient shrub that loves moist soils and features year-round beauty. This hardy, medium-sized shrub is a favourite for rain gardens, soakaways and moist places in your yard.

Plant in moist, well-drained soils in full or part sun and watch as this quick-growing shrub creates a mass of upright red stems two to three metres tall and almost as wide.

Small clusters of white flowers appear in late spring atop branches lined with pairs of dark green leaves. They provide bees and butterflies with an abundant supply of nectar and pollen and support 129 different caterpillar species including the spring azure butterfly and polyphemus moth. By late summer, the flowers develop into clusters of white berries, offering migrating birds a tasty feast.

At summer’s end, leaves turn shades of orange and red, settling into deep purple before falling. Bright red stems complement fall colours and create striking winter contrast against the white snow. The dense stems will also provide shelter for birds looking for protection, nesting sites or somewhere to get away from a cold winter wind.

The best colour comes from young stems. Prune 20-25 per cent of old stems in spring to help stimulate new growth and bring stunning colour the following winter. The young red stems can also be used for winter décor and basket weaving.

Add red-osier dogwood to your rain garden or along the border of a soakaway. Plant in front of an evergreen such as white spruce or balsam fir to help the red colour pop. Or mix with other rain garden favorites like white turtlehead, great blue lobelia and cardinal flower.

Red-osier dogwood is also drought, compaction and juglone tolerant, making it a great option for high-trafficked areas or near walnut trees.

Photo: Marilylle Soveran

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