Multiple dogwood (Cornus) species are described as “red twig” dogwood — and these particular dogwoods have beautiful and bright coral-red stems. They include Cornus servicea, Cornus alba, and Cornus sanguinea.
These species are also known by the names red osier dogwood, Tatarian dogwood, American dogwood, red brush, red willow, and red-rood, among others. Red twig dogwood plants belong to the family of Cornaceae, which counts 85 members of two genera, namely Alangium and Cornus (to which members of the dogwood species belong).
Red twig dogwoods are deciduous shrubs with variegated leaves — meaning they bear a deep green-gray color with a white edge, making them especially pleasant on the eye. The small, attractive, white flowers of red twig dogwood shrubs form in attractive clusters, and the contrast between the red twigs and the white flowers adds special visual appeal. Once the flowers wilt, the shrubs will reward you with beautiful white berries with blue undertones.
As pleasant as the leaves, flowers, and berries of red twig dogwood shrubs are, none of those features represent their main attraction — the red stems that will add a warmer atmosphere to any winter garden.
The fact that these small and unique-looking shrubs are easy to care for makes them a wonderful addition to your garden if you live in a wetter and colder climate. Red twig redwoods do not, however, cope well with warmer and humid climates and cannot be grown indoors.
About Red Twig Dogwood
- Red twig dogwood is a large deciduous shrub with multiple stems. The characteristic red color makes these shrubs a wonderful focal point in any garden, especially in the winter months, when they sheds their leaves and allow you to enjoy the striking stems in their full glory. In snowy regions, the red of the stems contrast beautifully with a white snowy backdrop.
- The scientific name of one of the most popular species of red twig dogwood is Cornus sericea. Cornus means “horn” in Latin while Sericea is “silky”. This charming shrub’s neo-Latin name can thus be translated to “silky horn”, and was given that name because of the small hairs that grace the top of the leaves.
- The red twig dogwood is a type of shrub that is native to the Americas, where it thrives in Alaska and northern Canada, but also performs well in southern Virginia, California, and Mexico. Usually found in woodlands and forests, this beautiful shrub can survive in a variety of temperatures, and thrives in colder climates. While the red twig dogwood has adapted to a wide range of conditions, this shrub does not do particularly well in really humid and hot areas.
- While Cornus sericea was introduced to Europe in the 1600s, where it was immediately admired for its beauty, this shrub is challenging to grow in the more humid and warmer areas of the continent. Another member of the dogwood family, Cornus sanguinea, which produces deep purple berries and features crimson to orange stems, is better suited for the European climate.
- Red twig dogwoods change throughout the year, ensuring that gardeners will never get bored of the view! Their white flowers emerge during the springtime or in early summer, and are followed by equally charming white berries with blue undertones. When your other plants, shrubs, and trees grow dull and boring in fall, the leaves of the red twig dogwood shrub turn an orange and red color that’s truly special. When they drop off, you will be able to enjoy the shrub’s deep red branches, ensuring that you will have a wonderful garden to enjoy year-round.
- Red twig dogwoods are primarily known for their beauty, so if you have never had one before, you may not know that the white flowers are also fragrant.
- The fact that red twig dogwoods are extremely easy to take care of makes them a great choice in almost any garden. These shrubs will only require some pruning, once a year, to keep them healthy and colorful — older branches lose their color, and are, as such, less attractive.
- Moist, mildly acidic, and especially rich soil is best for red twig dogwood, though these red shrugs do well in most types of soil, even clay.
- Red twig dogwood is most commonly used as a decorative plant in gardens as they look very pretty.
- Red twig dogwood is, on the other hand, also famous for attracting insects, birds, deer, elk, rabbits, and other animals. Gardeners who love to be surrounded by wildlife will be especially happy to add these shrubs to their gardens.
- This striking shrub doesn’t get damaged in rain and floods, but actually flourishes in wetter conditions.
Red Twig Dogwood Features: An Overview
- Cornus servicea is a red, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with beautiful variegated leaves; green-gray in the center, and white at the edges. Most people choose to add this plant to their gardens to enjoy the red stems during the winter, when it sheds its leaves and instantly provides an explosion of color.
- The red twig dogwood usually reaches a height of between six to nine feet tall, and it is typically eight to 12 feet wide. Unlike other members of the dogwood family, red twig dogwoods shrubs grow around two feet each year, placing them in the category of moderately-fast growing shrubs.
- The defining feature of this shrub are its stems; the red twig dogwood shrub has a beautiful a bright red color, just as its name suggests! However, it turns a deep orange-red color in the fall.
- Red twig dogwood will show its beautiful white flowers during the late spring to early summer. Once the flowers wilt, they will be replaced with the fruit of the shrub — equally attractive white berries that have blue to purple undertones.
- Because the red twig dogwood shrub supports bees, other insects, and birds, these shrubs are a popular addition to a pollinator garden.
- Most gardeners prefer to plant red twig dogwood shrubs in groups — they look striking as part of a hedge formation or in clusters. If you would like to add Cornus servicea to your garden, however, make sure to give each shrub plenty of space to grow, because they have a large spread.
- Red twig dogwood shrubs also have complex root systems that grow widely — making them a popular choice for gardeners who need plants for erosion control.
- With the proper care, these shrubs have a long lifespan of up to 80 years. Incredible!
Growing Red Twig Dogwood
Red twig dogwood is a fairly easy plant to grow and care for, although there are some things you should keep in mind while growing your red twig dogwood.
This shrub thrives in full sun, which will help the red twig dogwood’s stems achieve the brightest possible color. Many people prefer to plant them near walls that receive sunlight from the south or west during the winter, which maximizes their decorative value. Red twig dogwoods can cope with partial shade as well, however.
Red twig dogwood is a moisture-loving plant that thrives in wet areas. It does well in a variety of temperatures, including exceptionally cold climates, but it does not like warmer or tropical temperatures or humid climates. Attempting to grow red twig dogwoods in humid climates will be a challenge, as these conditions render them vulnerable to diseases.
Choosing to grow red twig dogwoods in an area with wet and acidic soil is best if you want your red twig dogwood to thrive. A location near a pond or a stream is a great choice for a cluster of red twig dogwood shrubs.
These shrubs may also be placed in large pots on balconies, where they can perform well as long as they have ample space, but will not perform well indoors under any circumstances — no matter how tempted you may be to try to keep a red twig dogwood as a houseplant, do not even try. You can expect red twig dogwoods placed in pots on balconies to be smaller than their counterparts planted in native soil in gardens, but that is often seen as an advantage, due to limited space.
Red twig dogwood shrubs are undemanding plants — and artificial fertilizer is not at all necessary in most circumstances. If you know that your garden has especially nutrient-poor soil, you may choose to add fertilizer. In that case, opt to start a fertilizer regime during the spring. Once the leaves drop, some people choose to offer their red twig dogwoods fish emulsion.
Watering Red Twig Dogwood
Red twig dogwood shrubs flourish in moist locations along ponds, streams, or woodlands. Gardeners who live in wet climates with a lot of precipitation will not need to water them additionally; nature will take care of that job just fine.
Because fresh young red twig dogwoods do need to be kept in moist soil constantly, however, they should be watered if rain isn’t a regular occurrence in your area. This regimen should be kept up for the first few months, when it is most critical for Cornus servicea and related red twig dogwood species to have constant access to moisture.
More mature red twig dogwoods do not generally need to be watered if you have chosen a moist place for them, and your area receives regular rainfall. However if it isn’t raining that much, you should still water a red twig dogwood every week to ensure the soil is nice and moist.
Propagating Red Twig Dogwood
Red twig dogwoods are among the easier plants to propagate — the process only takes a few steps and is fairly simple for experienced gardeners. There are several methods you can use to to propagate the red twig dogwood, but one of the better methods has you cutting a branch off a mature red twig dogwood during the fall and then replanting it. Make sure to cut off one of the younger branches and to cut it at the lowest part of the branch, to the length of around six inches, to ensure that your cutting can grow properly, with a bud on both ends of the cutting.
Once you are done cutting the branch off your mature red twig dogwood, you will need to prune the side branches, including the leaves, and place the cutting in rich soil that is not too wet but is moist enough to allow for growth.
All you need to do now is wait and keep the branch moist until the cutting starts to grow and bud. Once the spring arrives, you can transplant the cutting to your garden.
In another method to propagate a red twig dogwood, you will need to look around the original plant and find suckers that are beginning to grow outside of the parent plant. Since all these suckers are connected by the roots, you will have to dig the suckers up and then simply replant them in a different spot, making this method fairly easy and successful as well.
The moisture-loving red twig dogwood shrub makes for an exceptionally pretty plant and a great addition to your garden, promising to render your view just that much more colorful!
Those gardeners who are looking into growing a red twig dogwood will be happy to know that these plants are fairly low-maintenance and easy to take care of, aside from the annual pruning that ensures that the stems remain colorful.
These plants look beautiful in all seasons but change their looks throughout the year — a pretty blooming plant with white flowers in the springtime and a lovely reddish-orange in the fall! While they do well in most climates, red twig dogwoods don’t like warmer and more tropical climates and planting one there will make it a lot more susceptible to pests and diseases.
With red twig dogwood being so easy to take care of and incredibly pretty, it seems like adding a few to your garden is an easy choice!