Plant and care for red dogwood

Red Dogwood

The red dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) can be found naturally growing in Europe as well as in the Caucasus and Central Asia. He is also at home in the United States. The red dogwood has a long tradition as a cultivated plant and is a popular ornamental for the garden. In early summer it has a multitude of white flowers, while in autumn its foliage turns almost blood-red. Therefore it is called colloquially – and because of the red bark, through which the branches are characterized – frequently “blood-red Hartriegel”. With these red twigs, he even adds colour to the garden in winter. Botanically, the shrub belongs to the Cornaceae family.

The deciduous, runner-forming red dogwood grows into a very dense, broad but upright shrub four to six metres high. It has a decorative bark, forms attractive flowers in good time during the year and shows a splendid red colour in autumn.

The dark green leaves of the red dogwood are broadly elliptic to ovoid in shape and between four and eight centimeters long. They are arranged opposite each other, wedge-shaped at the base and pointed at the front. On both leaf-sides, they are sparsely hairy.

The red dogwood flowers very abundantly and from May to June forms a regular white corolla consisting of four to five centimeters wide, densely hairy umbels.

After flowering, the red dogwood develops many five to eight millimetre round stone fruits in August, which are bluish-black in colour and have tiny white dots on their smooth surface. They lure many birds into the garden.

A sunny to semi-shade place in the garden is suitable as a location.

In principle, the red dogwood is very adaptable, but it prefers calcareous and loamy soils that are well-permeable, rich in nutrients and fresh. In addition, the earth should be acidic to neutral.

When planting, the planting hole should be about three times the size of the root ball of the red dogwood. Mix the excavated soil with some humus and water the wood well.

In itself, the red dogwood is a very robust and easy-care woody plant for the garden – if you pay attention to a few points. Thus, the shrub does not tolerate soil compaction in the long term and reacts extremely sensitively to stagnant moisture as well as long dry periods.

The red dogwood, like its varieties, should be thinned out regularly and also tolerates a radical rejuvenation cut to the ground. So you can also enjoy the splendid autumn colouring, as only young, vital twigs fully develop the strong red.

Due to their high ornamental value, all dogwood plants play an important role in garden design. The Red Dogwood is a pioneer wood that is well suited for hedges because it protects against wind and curious glances. However, it can also be planted on slopes, where it secures the soil with its strongly branched and dense roots. As a solitary wood it attracts all attention, especially in autumn. Tip: The branches of the red dogwood are well suited for decorative wreaths and flower arrangements due to their attractive colouring and flexibility.

The ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’ variety only grows to about 1.5 metres in height and turns intense orange-yellow in autumn. Winter Beauty’, on the other hand, grows to almost two metres high and provides a great show of colour in the garden all year round: the leaves are bronze in bud, later turn dark green and take on a yellow (bottom) or red (top) colour towards winter. Cornus sanguinea ‘Green Light’ shows amazingly light green leaves in autumn, which darken towards the crown and end in a warm brown-red. The variety grows to a height of 1.5 metres. The ‘Compressa’ variety has a columnar growth, which over the years grows to a height of 2.5 metres. It is characterised by particularly dense foliage. In addition to numerous varieties, there is also the subspecies Cornus sanguinea subsp. australis, which grows between two and three metres high.

The red dogwood is propagated in winter – during the resting phase of the shrub – by means of wood sticks. To do this, cut 15 to 20 centimeters of unleaved, one-year-old shoots and put them in a shady place in loose, humus-enriched soil. It should only look a few inches out. The next spring the Steckhölzer then sprout.

Diseases and pests
The red dogwood is largely spared the common diseases and pests. Occasionally powdery mildew can occur.

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Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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