Red twig dogwood, Cornus alba, is also known as Tatarian dogwood. Red twigged dogwood grows as a shrub and has colorful winter stems that do well when planted in masses. Use them in naturalized areas around ponds and other water bodies. This species does not do well in small gardens, since its suckering habit will encroach upon other desirable plants. Other Cornus species, Cornus Kousa, and Cornus Mas, may also be of interest if you have a smaller landscape.
Red twig Description
Cornus alba specimens require a big, open, sunny location. The leaves are opposite, simple, and oval with a pointed tip and rounded base. They sometimes show a reddish purple color in fall. In winter, the stems are bright to dark red.
The color typically develops when the leaves drop and cool weather begins. The yellow-tinted white flowers are occasionally decorative. Clusters of white to bluish, berrylike fruits can look decorative against the red stems after leaf drop.
Growing and Care of Red-twigged Dogwoods
This species does well in Zones 3-7 and prefers full sun to partial shade. Red-twig grows 6’-10’ tall and may reach 5’-6’ wide. It prefers moist, well-drained soil but tolerates many soil conditions.
The best color occurs on new growth. You can cut them back to 1’ in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. If you prefer, you an cut back one third of the oldest stems before the growing season begins. *In Zone 7, this plant is prone to severe canker.
Cornus alba Varieties:
Cornus alba ‘Bailhalo’ (Ivory Halo) has white-edged leaves with green centers. It has red winter stems with a rounded form and grows 5’-6’ h and w.
Cornus alba ‘Cream Cracker’ features green-centered new leaves that have gold edges, turning cream with age. Winter stems are purple-red. This is a sport of C. Alba ‘Gouchaultaii’ and grows 5’-6’ h x 4’-5’w.
Cornus alba 'Elesantissima' has variegated foliage and white flower clusters.