If you’re looking for a plant to provide interest in winter when most everything has gone dormant, look no further than ornamental dogwoods.  These dogwoods are not trees but rather shrubs whose winter twigs provide incredible color – usually red or yellow. While both Dogwood trees and shrubs are members of the Cornus genus, the various shrub species grow on average about 8 ft. wide and 8 ft. tall and make wonderful hedges.  Maintenance is quite easy and only requires pruning each year in late winter or early spring. To keep the bright stem color from year to year, thin the number of shoots by a third and cut out the old, weak stems. You can also prune the stems back to encourage new growth. Below are some of the most popular dogwood twigs.

Cornus sericea  ‘Cardinal’- American Dogwood, Red Twig Dogwood, Red Osier Dogwood

Sericea is a deciduous shrub with year round interest. The green foliage turns red in fall. The white drupes (berries) form in fall after flowering. When the leaves drop, the twigs are various shades of red throughout the winter.  In early spring cut back low to the ground and put composted mulch around base of plant.

  • Can grow up to 8’ tall and 8’ wide in moist areas with afternoon shade.
  • Fruit of this dogwood attracts lots of birds. Very good for Stream Bank erosion control
  • Zones 2-7
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Moderate growth
  • White flowers, green foliage, cherry to coral red twigs in fall/winter
  • Blooms in spring

Cornus alba ‘Siberica’  - Siberian or Tatarian Dogwood

Alba is a red red-barked Dogwood  that is a stunning counterpart to the yellow barked dogwood. For best stem color (newer twigs have brighter color), cut the plant back to within a couple inches of the ground in March and apply mulch/compost to the bottom of plant every 2-3 years once established.

  • Full sun to part shade. Grows faster than yellow stemmed dogwood
  • Green foliage with white flowers in May/June with coral red stems that give winter interest
  • 6’ tall x 6’ wide

Cornus Sericea ‘Flaviramea’

Flaviramea is a yellow twig dogwood with lovely golden yellow stems in winter.  It is not as vigorous as red stemmed varieties being more prone to stem canker and leaf blight, but they tolerate wet conditions and look great mixed with the red twig dogwoods.

  • Grows 5-6’ high and 5-6’ wide
  • Zones 3-8
  • Bloom time: May to June
  • Attracts pollinators

Cornus Sanguinea ‘Cato’ or  ‘Arctic Sun’  – Blood twig Dogwood or European Dogwood

Cato is a dwarf blood twig cultivar that has yellow stems and crimson tips during fall/winter. The green foliage turns golden yellow in the fall.

  • Full sun to part shade
  • Zones 4-8
  • Grows 3-4’ high and 3-4’ wide
  • Flowers in May and June followed by whitish blue berries in late summer