|Monday Melange: Red Osier Dogwood|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 05 March 2012|
Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a red twigged deciduous shrub native to the northern half of the US and all of Canada. Planted for its red twigs and the beautiful white berries that provide contrast against the red twigs, the red osier dogwood is hardy between USDA zones 3 and 8, including the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico. It is a member of the Dogwood family (Cornaceae) and is one of those rare plants that is attractive throughout the entire year.
While the white flower clusters are large (approximately 2 inches in diameter) and showy, the flowers lack fragrance and are somewhat dull in appearance. Nonetheless, the flowers do provide ornamental interest in late spring. The berries develop in summer and the leaves turn an attractive dark reddish purple color in autumn. In spring the green twigs change color to reddish-purple twigs followed by bright red in the fall and winter months, when they are most spectacular, before turning back to green in the spring. Younger twigs and stems are brightest in color, older ones, less so and some gardeners prefer to prune older growth.
Red osier dogwood prefers rich organic soils and tolerates wetter than average soils. Attractive to birds and butterflies, red osier dogwood is considered a small to medium sized multi-stemmed shrub growing to a height of 6 to 10 feet. It grows via stolons (“stems” that creep along the ground), allowing it to form thickets over time--perfect for naturalistic landscapes or as informal hedgerows. Remove root suckers immediately to control spreading.
Photo sources (twigs, flowers, and berries/fall color): www.ecoterralandscape.com and www.swcoloradowildflowers.com, and flickr respectively.