Red Osier Dogwood Shrub
When people think of dogwood, the shrub with the famous white petaled blossom often comes to mind. But there are other members of the dogwood family, and they offer alternatives to everything from flower type to shrub cover. The red osier (Cornus serica) is an attractive flowering dogwood shrub with a wide regional range. Among its many nicknames are "red willow," "red root," and "creek dogwood." Its growing range falls within the two to eight hardiness zone. It fares best in colder, wetter climates. Although this is not an evergreen shrub, it provides year-round color in the form of its striking red bark. Frequent pruning will produce plenty of new growth which is also bright red.
In addition to its colorful appearance, red osier dogwood also pleases homeowners with its quick growth after planting. When mature, the plant reaches a height and width of five to nine feet. Some mature shrubs reach a height and circumference of 10 feet. Its flowers are a spray of white or red and are less showy than that of the flowering dogwood. Its main cosmetic features are its branches, stems, and trunk. If little or no pruning is done, these wooded areas take on a grayish hue. Pruning for reasons of shrub health need only be done once per year.
Red osier dogwood does well in acidic or alkaline soils. This is a moisture loving shrub that does not do well in very dry soils or regions. This shrub is often found in or near wetland areas and will flourish in wet areas of a property. In addition to offering a planting alternative for these parts of a yard, the most significant landscaping benefit of this dogwood is its ornamental potential. But as this shrub can be used as a form of erosion control, it has a more practical landscaping use. By planting these dogwoods three to four feet apart, a dense root network can be created to save vulnerable banks. This makes the red osier dogwood not just another pretty backyard addition, but a useful one as well.