Cardinal Red Twig DogwoodCornus sericea 'Cardinal'
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Cornus sericea 'Cardinal'
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In colder parts of the country winters are long. In our gardens we want to see something interesting and colorful, and the Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a top choice for that purpose. Its upright, bright red twigs in winter glow against the snow or black earth in sun, and on cloudy days too. This easy to grow shrub reaches around 6 feet tall, ideal as a single plant in a smaller garden, or mass-planted in a larger one. Grow it as a backdrop to beds, around your home, as an informal hedge, along a stream, or to divide the garden from wilder parts around it. This shrub fits into any garden style, and it is so hardy that it can be grown even in the coldest parts of the country.
The Cardinal Red Dogwood grows well in ordinary garden conditions and it also thrives in wetter soils, where many other plants fail. If you have wet areas, then this is your number one choice for a shrub. If you have normal soil conditions, it grows well too. It can be left to grow naturally or pruned in various ways to maximize the number and length of the red twigs. These can also be cut in winter to bring indoors for vases. This plant is a popular all-rounder, especially if you garden in cold areas of the country. it is pest resistant and normally not eaten by deer.
The middle-range of size – plants about as big as we are – is an important zone in the garden. While smaller flowering plants can bring color, and tall trees create enclosure and look great from a distance, it is the medium sized shrubs that fill the garden and make it look complete. They catch our attention immediately, because they are at eye level. In colder parts of the country, months of every year are spent in winter, with many plants bare and leafless. We want to have something attractive to see at that time, and even more so among these medium sized shrubs that are so prominent. Something easy to grow and adaptable, but striking and eye-catching.
In those cooler areas, few shrubs fit that description as well as the Cardinal Red Dogwood. The most striking feature of this shrub is its winter twigs, which are a rich red – beautiful against both bare earth, dormant lawns or snow. This feature draws our attention, and it brings interest just at that most lifeless time of year. Added to that, this is a plant that thrives not only in ordinary garden soil, but also in wet and even flooded soil, with a natural affinity for water. As well, it is a selected form of a North American native shrub, so it has every right to be in our gardens.
Plant the Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood behind smaller flowering shrubs – it will be at its best when they are resting for the winter. Use it to fill spaces in the background of your garden, or among the foundation planting around your home. Make an informal hedge with it to separate one part of your garden from another, or to mark the boundary of your property from surrounding fields or woodland.
Best of all, if you have a pond or stream, plant it around the banks, on the opposite side from where you are, to soften and enrich the contours of the water. Anywhere you have a low-lying area that is often wet, this shrub is the ideal choice. In winter you can cut branches to bring indoors to make colorful vases during those drab months.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a multi-stemmed shrub that grows between 6 and 9 feet tall, or even a little less, depending on soil conditions and if and how it is pruned. It spreads into a dense clump by sending new stems up from the ground around it, but it is not invasive. Young stems begin life green, but as they mature and ripen the bark turns orange to bright red, colors that are retained and become richer and more prominent through the winter months. As the stems become older the bark turns brown, but some pruning encourages a continuous supply of those desirable red branches.
The leaves are 2 to 5 inches long, oval in form, with a smooth outline and an attractive appearance. In spring and summer they are rich green, but in fall they turn handsome shades of red, orange and purple, adding to the glory of that magnificent season. In late spring tiny white flowers appear in flat heads 2 to 3 inches across. These are pretty insignificant, but they can be followed by attractive clusters of white berries, sometimes tinted with purple. These are an additional feature of this shrub, and they also provide food for wild birds in winter. As the colorful leaves drop to the ground in late fall, the brilliant red twigs are revealed once again, the highlight of the multiple features of this shrub.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a fantastic addition in any garden, but especially in colder areas. It is perfectly hardy to minus 40 degrees, so even in the coldest parts of zone 3 it will thrive. Yet it also grows well in much warmer areas, all the way into zone 8. Further south it will not grow so well, as it needs some winter cold to mature its buds each year.
It grows perfectly well in ordinary garden soil, but always does best in moister soil, enriched with organic material. It will grow in areas that are sometimes flooded, and even grow in spots with an inch or two of water over the soil most of the time. It is an appropriate choice for heavy clay soil too. It has few significant pests or diseases, even deer usually leave it alone, and this shrub is an easy and trouble-free addition to any sized garden.
Although it can be left untouched to grow naturally, many gardeners prefer to prune it to keep those red twigs coming. There are two methods used. One is to remove about 25% of the oldest wood every year, cutting branches out at the base. Alternatively, cut the whole plant back to 6 inches tall every 2 or 3 years. This will produce the longest, brightest twigs, and a dense, upright form, but the plant will only be 3 or 4 feet tall. The choice is yours, depending on your inclination and garden.
The Red Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea, is a native shrub, growing wild across most of the country, but especially in the northern states. It is usually found by rivers or lakes, in swamps and in wetlands generally. The form called ‘Cardinal’ is a selection found around 1987 that has much more brilliant twig coloring than wild plants, and it is also a little more compact – both ideal qualities for the garden.
Our plants are grown by rooting stem pieces of correctly-identified plants, not from seed, which always produces inferior and variable plants of poorer quality for the garden. This plant is a garden staple in cold areas, and our stocks will not last long. Order now while we can still satisfy your order. You may also be interested in other similar varieties of this plant that we carry, like the Arctic Fire Red Twig Dogwood.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a versatile shrub that can be paired with a variety of plants. In the foreground, consider using flowering perennials that bloom in spring or summer, such as daylilies or coneflowers, to provide contrast with the dogwood’s red twigs in winter. Evergreen shrubs can also be a good choice, as they provide year-round interest and a backdrop for the dogwood’s winter color. If the dogwood is planted near a water feature, consider pairing it with other water-loving plants like irises or cattails.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a fantastic choice for a winter-themed garden. Its bright red twigs provide a pop of color against the winter landscape, making it a focal point in the garden. Consider planting it in a prominent spot where it can be easily seen from inside your home. You can also use it in combination with other winter-interest plants like evergreens, ornamental grasses, or other shrubs with colorful winter bark. Don’t forget to add some outdoor lighting to highlight its vibrant color during the shorter winter days.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It can tolerate a range of soil conditions, including wet soils, and doesn’t require regular watering once established. Pruning is optional but can help to encourage more red twig growth. If you choose to prune, you can either remove some of the oldest branches each year, or cut the entire plant back every few years. This can help to rejuvenate the plant and encourage more vigorous growth. Aside from this, the plant is generally pest-resistant and doesn’t require regular fertilizing.
Yes, the Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood can be an excellent choice for erosion control. Its ability to thrive in wet soils and tolerate flooding makes it a good option for planting in areas prone to erosion, such as stream banks or slopes. The plant’s dense, multi-stemmed growth habit helps to stabilize the soil, while its tolerance for wet conditions means it can survive in areas where other plants might struggle. Plus, its attractive appearance and winter interest make it a more aesthetically pleasing choice than many other erosion control plants.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood can attract a variety of wildlife to your garden. Its berries are a food source for many species of birds, including robins, cardinals, and waxwings. The dense growth habit of the shrub can also provide shelter for birds and small mammals. While the plant is generally not a favorite of deer, it may still attract them to your garden, especially in areas where deer populations are high. However, the plant’s resistance to deer browsing means it can still thrive even in areas with a high deer population.
Absolutely! The bright red twigs of the Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood can make a striking addition to winter flower arrangements. They provide a strong vertical element and a pop of color that can contrast beautifully with the more muted tones of winter flowers and foliage. You can also use them on their own for a minimalist, modern arrangement. Just remember to cut the twigs at an angle for better water absorption and to change the water regularly to keep your arrangement looking fresh.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a versatile plant that can be used in many ways in your landscape. Its bright red winter twigs make it a standout feature, so consider placing it where it can be easily seen from your home or main outdoor living areas. It can be used as a single specimen plant, or planted in groups for a more dramatic effect. If you have a water feature, consider planting the dogwood along the banks for a natural look. The dogwood can also be used as an informal hedge or to create a transition between more manicured parts of your garden and wilder areas.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a hardy and resilient plant that is generally resistant to most common garden pests and diseases. However, like any plant, it can occasionally be affected by certain problems. Potential issues could include fungal diseases like leaf spot or canker, especially in wet conditions. Pests like aphids or scale insects can also sometimes be a problem. However, these issues are generally rare and can be easily managed with good garden hygiene and occasional monitoring. The plant is also resistant to deer, making it a good choice for areas with high deer populations.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood can contribute to biodiversity in your garden in several ways. As a native plant, it is well-adapted to local conditions and can support a variety of native wildlife. Its berries provide a valuable food source for birds in winter when other food sources may be scarce. The dense growth of the shrub can also provide shelter for birds and small mammals. By including this plant in your garden, you can help support local ecosystems and contribute to biodiversity.
The Cardinal Red Twig Dogwood is a relatively fast-growing shrub, often growing several feet in a year under ideal conditions. Its lifespan can vary depending on the growing conditions and care it receives, but it can often live for several decades. Regular pruning can help to keep the plant healthy and vigorous, and can also encourage more of the brightly colored twig growth that makes this plant so desirable. With proper care, this plant can be a long-lasting and vibrant addition to your garden.