January Plant of the Month – Dogwood

Dogwoods (Cornus) are grown for the colour of their stems in Winter.  The brightest stems are the new new growth so they are cut down to about 4″/10cm above the ground (Coppiced) every Spring.  They are pruned just as the leaf buds begin to break.  This encourages lots of new growth for the following Winter.  The best effect is achieved when they are planted in groups.

They grow in most soils including wet clay but don’t like very dry soil and the leaves will droop in a hot spell in the Summer.  They also don’t like deep shade.  If they are left unpruned they become quite large shrubs with white flowers followed by black berries which are enjoyed by birds.  Some varieties sucker freely so need keeping an eye on but it is easy to propogate them through layering (where a branch is in contact with the ground and starts to root).

For red stems try Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, for golden/green stems plant Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and for stems that are golden at the bottom moving to red at the tips try Cornus sanginea ‘Midwinter Fire’.

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