Plant Profile: Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’)


Before we get into our topic today, I want to remind you that our seed give away is this Friday, February 3. To enter, all you have to do is enter your e-mail address in the box to the right. That’s it…no catches or surprises. Of course, I would never sell your e-mail or anything like that; I’m here to help you with your gardening questions, not compromise your trust.

Cornus sericea 'Baileyi'Red Twig Dogwood…you may not recognize the name immediately but if you’ve ever seen this plant glowing in the winter landscape, chances are that it is etched in your memory. This dogwood, Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’, isn’t what you think of when you hear the word “dogwood”. No, instead it is a shrub that is grown for its striking red stems.

In the winter landscape, Red Twig Dogwood is a standout, especially when grown against a light colored background or when displayed in a snowy landscape. It grows to around 6′ to 8′ tall and is equally as wide. It flourishes in dry soils once established but can also tolerate soil that tends to be slower draining which makes it perfect for that low area of your garden. In summer, it has the appearance of just another green shrub after its white blooms disappear in May. The flowers give way to beautiful porcelain blue berries that are adored by birds. When the days begin to shorten and the temperatures begin to fall, beautiful tones of red and purple are displayed before the leaves drop. Red Twig Dogwood is hardy from Zones 3-8 which makes it a shoo-in for Mid-Atlantic gardening enthusiasts.

Maintenance of Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’ is minimal once established. There are two schools of thought for pruning to enhance the red coloration of the stems. The first method of pruning is to remove 1/3 of the shrub each spring to eliminate the oldest branches as it is the newer stems that display the best coloration. The next method is the one I prefer as I consider myself a lazy gardener. Going the lazy route involves rejuvenating the entire shrub every 3 years or so by removing all of the branches to within 8″ of the ground. The flush of growth that ensues will be a blazing fiery red…of course you won’t really see it until the following fall when the leaves drop but you will be rewarded with a beautiful show.

I would be remiss to not mention the cousin of the Red Twig Dogwood, the Yellow Twig Dogwood. The latin name of the yellow version is Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and the growth habit and care is the same with the exception that Yellow Twig Dogwood tends to form colonies through its suckering habit. Let me know your experience with Red Twig Dogwood by leaving me a comment below or e-mailing me at stacey@midatlanticgardening. Happy gardening!

February 1, 2012Permalink 1 Comment