Red Osier Dogwood Shrub - Cornus sericea
The Red Osier Dogwood shrub inherits its name from the Latin words 'cornus,' meaning 'horn,' and 'sericea,' meaning 'clothed in silken hair.' In summer time, the shrub produces green leaves of 2-5 inches in size. The leaves turn into a reddish-purple color in the fall, and a vibrant red color in the winter time. The branches are loose and very skinny in size, growing upward. Through each season, only the leaves change colors, and the stems stay red. Growing in a round shape, the shrub produces white blooms and white berries in the summer time. The white berries are a favorite snack for many species of birds. Even though birds enjoy its bounty, the tree is deer resistant.
Because the Red Osier Dogwood grows in hardy zones 2-7, the plant is highly adaptable and forgiving for even the less experienced gardener. It prefers full sun, but does well in part shade(at least 4 hours of full sun) as well. The soil requirements are acidic to alkaline soil that is wet, for the Red Osier does not prefer dry soil. This is why they are frequently found in swamp areas around the United States.
The mature height for a Red Osier Dogwood is 7-9 feet. It grows the fastest vertically, gaining a length of 24 inches each year. The shrub grows up to 10 feet wide; but its growth is a much slower rate from side to side.
For landscaping, the Red Osier Dogwood is best used as a hedge for privacy or decoration. Many people prefer it for their wintertime foliage, as the bright red color of the tree contrasts with the white snow, making for a festive yard. Some gardeners have even used this tree as a lovely addition to rain gardens, because of the moist climate and wet soil.