PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus spp.)

Red Twig Dogwoods provide much needed hot flashy color in the middle of our grey & dim cold months. This is the shrubby form of Dogwood, not the tree. They are all related, but completely different in form.

Red Twigs are native to most of the northern hemisphere. Cornus sericea is native to North America including the PNW. Cornus alba is from parts of northern Asia, and Cornus sanguinea is native in Europe. All of these are at their brilliant best in winter when the leaves are off and their bare stem colors glow brightly. Color is commonly bright red, but can range from lemon yellow to orange to coral. Some varieties have all these colors.

They all form multi-stemmed bushy masses slightly taller than wide. Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’ only gets 2 ft. tall. The straight species gets 8-12 ft. Prune every two years to promote new twig growth which has the best color. Cut older bark-covered branches to the ground & prune younger ones at whatever height you like. It’s an excellent barrier hedge plant.

Bright green leaves in spring followed by clusters of small white flowers which serve up food for native pollinators. These turn to white pea-sized berries later in summer (good bird food), then great autumn foliage color & back to flaming winter twigs. Native habitat is near wetlands, but they are fine anywhere. They are happy slurping water near a rain garden.