The best shrubs bring beauty to more than one season of the year – and they are easy to care for too. The Ivory Halo Dogwood certainly satisfies those needs, and it is compact enough to be used alone in smaller gardens, or mass-planted in larger ones. Cold-hardy and thriving in almost every garden, this plant features colorful foliage all spring and summer, followed by striking red twigs in winter.
The Ivory Halo Dogwood is a deciduous shrub that grows 5 to 6 feet tall and wide, making an excellent medium-sized plant for a larger garden, or a background plant in a smaller garden. It has a twiggy structure, with multiple branches coming from ground level. In spring and summer the foliage is delightful, with each light-green leaf having a broad, irregular margin of white, creating a plant that brightens up all parts of your garden. It looks terrific standing out against a hedge or other plain green plants. Plant it singly or in groups among evergreens around your home, or in shrub beds. Create an informal edging along a path or driveway with a row, spacing the plants 4 feet apart. Use it in large planter boxes to brighten paved courtyards in urban areas. No matter how you use it, this plant is sure to please. For a striking winter effect, mix this shrub with the Yellow Twig Dogwood, (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’), whose bright yellow winter twigs look great mixed with the red twigs of the Ivory Halo Dogwood.
Growing Ivory Halo Red Twig Dogwood Shrubs
In fall the leaves turn yellow before dropping to the ground, revealing rich deep-red twigs, which hold their color all winter long, making a bright display, especially against the snow. Combined with the bright leaves, this shrub gives you beauty and color all year round, making it ideal for easy-care interest in every garden. It is a great improvement over the older variegated dogwood (‘Elegantissima’), because it has a much denser growth structure; the leaves are closer together on the stems, making a bushier plant; and the winter twigs are brighter and richer in color. The Ivory Halo Dogwood should not be confused with the taller, tree-like flowering dogwoods. It has small flowers in clusters, in spring and early summer, on older branches. These are attractive, 2.5 inches across, but not showy, and the main interest is in the brilliant and colorful foliage.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Ivory Halo Dogwood in full sun or partial shade. Unlike many other variegated plants, the leaf patterning does not fade in shadier spots. It thrives in almost any soil, from ordinary garden soil to damper soils, and it even grows well in areas that are sometimes flooded. That makes it a great choice along a stream, around a lake, or in any low-lying area. Avoid hot, dry, sandy soils, where growth will be reduced. This shrub is extremely hardy, thriving even in zone 3, but reliable and easy to grow all the way into zone 7. It has few pests or diseases of concern, and it is among the easiest of garden shrubs to grow. Since the brightest twig color is on new growth, some spring pruning is beneficial to maximize that winter glamor. Either remove a few older branches each spring, close to the ground, or cut the whole plant right back to the ground every 3rd year in colder areas, and every 2nd year in milder zones.
The Ivory Halo Dogwood is a form of the Siberian dogwood, Cornus alba. This plant grows all through Siberia, northern China and Korea, usually in damper areas and the edges of forests. The wild plant grows to around 10 feet tall, with plain green leaves, blue-white berries and reddish-brown winter twigs. It is closely related to the red-twig dogwood, Cornus sericea, a very similar-looking American native shrub which is more inclined to spread underground that its Asian cousin. The Siberian dogwood is therefore a better choice for smaller spaces.
History and Origins of the Ivory Halo Red Twig Dogwood Shrubs
A variety called ‘Elegantissima’ (or ‘Argenteomarginata’) appeared in Europe some time before 1900, and it has been a favorite in gardens for well over 100 years. In 1983, at the Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, Minnesota, Rodney Bailey spotted an unusual plant growing in a field of plants of the ‘Elegantissima’ variety. It was more compact, with the leaves closer together, and the twig color was a much stronger red. He realized that this plant was perfect for smaller settings, where the taller ‘Elegantissima’, which can reach 10 feet in height, would be too tall. The exact origin of this plant is not known. The nursery patented it in 1994 under the name ‘Bailhalo’. That patent has now expired. It is registered under the name Ivory Halo, and it is a significant improvement on the older variety. Our plants are grown from stem pieces taken from the correct variety, and we always recommend growing the best – which this certainly is. Our stock is limited, so order now for lots of year-round color and very little work.