Dogwoods attract numerous birds, mammals, and beneficial insects, and because of their suckering habit, are great for erosion control and forming natural hedges.
A medium-sized deciduous shrub with a vigorous, spreading habit. Twigs are purplish brown in spring, and have a distinctive brown pith, while dormant twigs are reddish purple. Medium green leaves may turn reddish purple in fall. Twigs and leaf undersides have silky hairs, thus the common name. Flat-topped clusters of creamy white flowers are followed by white berries which age to a purplish-blue. Attracts birds. Supports beneficial insects.
Prefers moist soils in part shade. Tolerates close to full shade. Benefits from a 2-4” mulch which will help keep roots cool and moist in summer. Branches that touch the ground may root at the nodes, and when left alone, this shrub may spread to form thickets.
Height: 6-12 ft.
Spread: 6-12 ft.
Bloom time: May to June
Sun: full sun to part shade to shade
Water: medium to wet
Trying to tell your Cornus sericea (red twig), C. amomum (silky) and C. racemosa (grey) dogwoods apart? Here are a few tips:
If the plant is flowering, look at the arrangement of the inflorescence. All three plants have white flowers, but C. sericea and C. amomum both have flat-topped clusters of flowers, while C. racemosa has a terminal raceme of flowers (thus the species name); a round-topped cluster. If the shrubs are bearing fruit: C. amomum has silvery blue berries while C. sericea and C. racemose have white berries. C. amomum has small hairs on the new, reddish twigs and flower buds, thus the common name silky dogwood. Still in doubt? Snap a twig open – the pith color of C. sericea and C. racemosa is white, while the pith of C. amomum is dark brown. And of course, there is the bark color: both C. sericea and C. amomum have stems in shades of red, while C. racemosa has grey bark (thus the common name). Hope this helps!
photo credit: Michael Wolf