Red-Twig Dogwoods

| Colorado Native Plants, Native Landscape Planning & Design

by Aaron Michael

One great Colorado native plant to landscape with is Red-Twig Dogwood. This shrub, also called Red Osier Dogwood, with the Latin name Cornus sericea, can be found in the wild in areas such as wetlands and riparian zones where the soil is rich and poorly drains. It also can be found in areas that receive more than 20 inches of precipitation annually.

Red Osier dogwood in bloom
Red Osier Dogwood

Red-Twig Dogwoods provide nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies as it flowers between May and June. Dogwoods then grow berries that ripen at the end of summer. These berries are eaten by many different bird and mammal species. Birds also find cover and nesting habitat in the Dogwood’s leaves during the summer and refuge in their upright stems in the winter. In the wild, beavers are known to utilize these stems to build dams!

Red twig dogwood in winter
Red-Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea, in winter.

As the Red-Twig Dogwood has such striking red stems, it is a great choice of plant for winter interest in your garden. Its cycle of leaves, flowers, berries, and stems throughout the seasons can provide much delight for you and wildlife. Dogwoods can tolerate shade, although their signature red stems will be brightest in full sun. They appreciate fertile, moist soils. For less than moist environments, if well established in its first few seasons, your Dogwood will be drought-tolerant. A mature Dogwood will grow between six to nine feet tall and eight to 12 feet wide. With all that it does and how beautiful it is, in all four seasons in Colorado, Dogwood is an excellent choice of native plant for your landscape.

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