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How to Plant Red Dogwood

The red osier dogwood (C. sericea or Cornus stolonifera) is a fast-growing deciduous shrub that grows up to 15 feet tall at maturity, but can be kept at 3 to 9 feet in height with pruning. The red dogwood blooms in clusters of small white flowers during May through August and produces tiny berries that attract songbirds and ruffed grouse, followed by bright red stems throughout the winter months. Native to parts of North America, the red osier dogwood likes saturated soils and often grows on shorelines, stream banks and slopes. The red osier dogwood can grow in nearly any climatic zone, enduring minimum winter temperatures down to -45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Select a planting site for your red dogwood that’s in full to partial sunlight. Choose a site where the soil stays moist at all times, if possible.

Dig a planting hole that is twice the width of and the same depth as the red dogwood’s nursery container. Mix into the displaced soil some organic compost.

Remove the red dogwood from the nursery container carefully. Set the roots into the planting hole and gently loosen to spread them out.

Backfill the planting hole with the amended soil, planting the red dogwood at the same depth as it was planted in the nursery container. Water the soil generously to saturate it down to and around the red dogwood’s roots.

Keep the soil around the red dogwood wet to moist throughout the first growing season to help the roots establish. Water the red dogwood every day or every three days to supplement rainfall, soaking the soil to the depth of the roots.


Prune your red dogwood back to about 1 inch above the ground in late winter or early spring, just before the new buds emerge.


Avoid planting your red dogwood shrub in a shady area, because doing so will prevent blooming and dull the bright-red stem color in the winter.

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