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What is a Dogwood Bush?

By Helga George
Updated May 16, 2024
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A dogwood bush is an ornamental shrub, in the genus Cornus, that is grown for its decorative flowers and branches. Several species are commonly grown, particularly the red twig dogwood bush, Cornus stolonifera, formerly known as C. sericea. The shrubs need a lot of moisture when they are young, and are used to help rehabilitate wetlands.

Dogwood bushes can grow up to 12 ft (3.6 m) tall and equally as wide. They usually bloom in the spring or summer with pink or white flowers. The shrubs can produce fruit that are eaten by birds. Some varieties have stems of striking red, orange, or yellow colors. The young stems have the strongest color, so it is recommended to cut the stems to two to three inches from the base while the plant is dormant. Pruning a dogwood bush should be done very infrequently.

These shrubs should be planted in moist areas, such as by a pond or brook. If this cannot be done, they should be watered heavily when young. When the plants are older, they will have some drought tolerance. They are also tolerant of large temperature fluctuations, but do not fare well in areas with consistently high temperatures. These plants can grow in sun or shade, and will tolerate poor soils.

Dogwood bushes are used quite often in landscaping. They make excellent hedges, if allowed enough room for them to grow. The plants are also used to stabilize the land around bodies of water.

Red dogwood bush is a term that encompasses several different types of dogwoods that have bright red stems in the winter. The most common is the red twig dogwood bush, also known as the red osier dogwood bush. It has deep green, oval leaves that are typically 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.3 cm) long, and many stems. The shrub blooms during the spring or summer, with 2 inch (5 cm) wide clusters of creamy white flowers. It produces spring and summer fruit that are bluish or white, and bright red foliage in the fall.

This dogwood bush is native to swamps from northern California to Alaska, and the eastern United States. It is often used in residential landscapes because of its vibrant stem color and beautiful flowers. This shrub can also be used to fill in stream banks, because its roots hold the soil well. Although this is true, it can also tolerate somewhat dry conditions.

Another type of dogwood that is popular is the variegated dogwood bush, Cornus alba argenteo-marginata. This shrub has many stems and spreads by forming suckers. Its stems are also striking red in the winter. The leaves are green in the center, and white around the edges. The plant blooms in late spring, producing clusters of yellowish-white flowers.

Unlike other dogwoods, this variety is best pruned every year. It is particularly important to prune out shoots that have become solid green, so they do not take over the whole plant. The plants should be planted when they are in a dormant stage, and it is best to mulch them annually.

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Discussion Comments
By anon112185 — On Sep 19, 2010

I have two overgrown dogwood trees. is it possible to move one of them at least? It's the later part of sept. can i trim them now?

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