2022 | How to Care for Red Twig Dogwood

Red Twig Dogwood offers a charming look with its bright red color. It adds beauty to your garden all around the year. In scientific language, it is known as Cornus servicea, Cornus alba, or Cornus sanguinea. Being a native to much of North America, it is a suitable option to grow for those residing in zones 3 to 8. 

Although there are other dogwood trees, red twig dogwood poses a distinctive look than the rest. It is smaller in size; actually, it never grows enough to become a tree. Even though they are visually pleasing as a single plant as well, growing them as a group will add more charm to its beauty. Red Twig Dogwood offers refreshing changing looks with the changing season. There are beautiful white flowers produced just at the start of spring season and berries grow from raw green to ripe white color as the summer season approaches to the end. The stems are of solid green color during all this time. The winter season is when the outer layers are removed, and the stem changes into a bright red color. 

As one of the most pleasing looking plants, it is recommended to plant them at a place that is visible easily. Planting them near a window will give your interior a classy touch. Red Twig Dogwood requires an ample amount of sunlight to grow, so whatever the place is, this requirement should be well taken care of. 

The water requirement of Red Twig Dogwood is a bit high. They require moist soil for better nourishment. As the water requirement is high, this requires regular attention. Lack of moisture is going to hamper their growth. If you want them at their brightest color, you need to take good care of them. For ensuring better growth of root structure, well-draining soil is recommended in the plantation area. 

In order to make sure that the stem has the brightest colors possible, the old branches should be cut off just before the start of spring season every few years. As the spring season is the season of growth, cutting off the old branches will give rise to new ripe branches with more solid colors. It will also help in the spreading of the plant in the area. The new branches will have more space to spread completely. 

Although not a low maintenance plant, Red Twig Dogwood pays out every penny by giving your garden an aesthetically pleasing look in its full bloom. The end result is worth all the hard work done to ensure its optimal growth.

To make sure that your Red Twig Dogwood is growing just the way it should be, here are some tips for you in case you forgot to take care of something.


Red Twig Dogwood grows best in a moist environment. However, the level of humidity has to be kept under check. If the humidity is very high, it may cause spots on the leaves. These spots cause no harm to the plants, but it will damage the garden’s aesthetic looks. High humidity can also lead to the development of diseases such as canker. 

To control the humidity and maintain it to a particular required level, a humidifier can be used. 

Watering Requirement

With respect to watering needs, Red Twig Dogwood is a susceptible plant. As they prefer moist areas, they are hydrophilic species. Just after you have planted it, its water requirement is at its peak. You need to water it almost daily in the first couple of months to ensure optimal growth. It would be better if the soil is allowed to dry out before watering next time. It is advised to water them regularly. The dry spells can affect them adversely.

After they have grown mature, their water requirements drop. If they are planted in an open garden, the weekly rain is usually enough to satisfy their needs. However, in the absence of rain, they should be watered enough to keep them moist. 

Light Requirement

Red Twig Dogwood is a light-loving plant. The brightest colors are guaranteed if they are planted in an area with direct sunlight. But it can also tolerate partial shade environments up to some extent. If they are being planted indoors, they should be placed near the window for ample light.

However, even though it loves light, it is strictly advised against planting it in a place where the temperature is high, and the air is dry. It thrives best in a cold and moist environment. It can adapt to a wide range of temperatures ranging from moderate to harsh cold weather as well. Fulfilling the light requirements of Red Twig Dogwood in cold weather would be a challenge nevertheless. 

If the conditions around you are hot and dry, it will require very much care and attention for the ideal growth. The sun will provide ample light for all the light requirements, but as far as the watering requirements are concerned, this will be a hard thing to keep up with, especially in the early stages of growth. You will continuously need to monitor the soil and avoid any kind of drought situation.

Soil Conditions

The condition of soil plays a vital role in the growth of any kind of plant. The moisture in the soil, drainage capability, amount of nutrients available, and the physical characteristics of the loam decide the quality of the end product.

Red Twig Dogwood is not a very picky plant when it comes to soil. It can be grown in marshy soil as well as clay. But the thing about the soil that matters for its growth sometimes is the optimum pH. Dogwoods prefer acidic to mildly alkaline range soil. The range on the pH scale is 5-7.5. It is a good idea to check the pH of your soil before planting so that if it does not fall in the ideal range, you can take necessary improvement steps before moving further with the process. 

A workable soil would have an advantage when planting because it would make the process easier. Excellent drainage capability is necessary because the water added would reach the roots quickly and help in their agile development. 

If grown in moist soil, Red Twig Dogwood shows ideal growth. The presence of nutrients in the soil is an added advantage.

Organic Matter

The nutrients present in the soil are an essential item for the nourishment of the plant. However, you can not always have the best soil with all the ideal requirements fulfilled. If your soil lacks nutrients, you can always improve it by the addition of fertilizers. Choosing the best type of fertilizer is necessary for fast growth.

Red Twig Dogwood does not require much addition of fertilizer, but adding one will do you no harm.

It is recommended that fertilizer should be added just at the start of the spring season when the plants have started its growth. Any more additions can be made once the leaflets start emerging out. To ensure better and quick recovery, fertilizer can be added after you are done with the pruning process. Fertilizing should be done over the root zone for the maximum benefits. 

It is recommended to use a fertilizer that has sulfur or iron contents in it. If not available, you can use locally available materials as well, such as organic compost or regular plant food.

Fertilizer is to be used only in the spring season and once in the fall.


In the case of Red Twig Dogwood, pruning plays an important role. Apart from its watering needs, Red Twig Dogwood is an easy to care plant. You need to do pruning at regular intervals to keep the beauty of the plant intact. Only the stems that are not more than two years old show bright colors. Older stems turn brown and lose their shape.

There are two approaches to pruning. The first one is that after two years of growth, you can start cutting one-third of the older stems at the start of the spring season. This will help you keep the most part; however, you need to be careful while choosing which stems to cut. Those who look dorky and have lost their shape are the ones to be sacrificed.

The second approach is a more extreme option, but it is best for active growth. Each year at the start, you can cut the older stem into smaller stumps. This will help the plant to grow aggressively. But you will have to live without a full-fledged plant for the weeks to come. The disadvantage is that you will not be able to get flowers or berries. 

Pruning helps you keep the height of the Red Twig Dogwood at your desired level. 

Other Tips

To avoid damage from the early frost in the colder regions, do not fertilize the soil at least two months before the start of frost action.

The addition of compost in the soil makes it acidic and more suitable for the growth of Red Twig Dogwood. 

Your watering routine should be in the early morning. As watering in the evening makes the plant prone to the attack of fungus or any other plant disease.

Red Twig Dogwood is a plant that loves to have extra space. It can grow at a rapid rate and occupy the area to form a well-established neighborhood. Alongside this, the berries built on it makes it an ideal place for birds seeking food and shelter at the same site.

If you want to move it, choose the place wisely as frequent moving will hamper the plant’s growth. The moving of the plant should be done only when the plant leaves have dropped. The late fall season is recommended.

Red Twig Dogwood is an easy to target plant for the insects and fungus. The infected branches should be separated from the plant as soon as possible without giving them the chance to spread all over the plant. In any serious case, the use of pesticides is recommended. 

Before sowing your seeds indoors, they should be frozen for at least three months prior to planting. 

If you can, plant it in a relatively damp location for optimal growth.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Question: Do Red Twig Dogwoods spread?

Answer: Yes, Red Twig Dogwood loves to grow in an open space and create a completely covered colony. If the pruning is not done, it is expected to grow as high as 8 feet with a spread equal to the height. 

Question: Will Red Twig Dogwood root in water?

Ans: Yes, the roots can grow in water. Although it is a time taking process, the roots can be grown in water. All you need to do is leave them in water under suitable conditions. The water needs constant replacement if it changes its color or smells.

Question: Do birds eat Red Twig Dogwood berries?

Answer: Not edible for humans but birds love to feast on the delicious berries produced by red twig dogwood. As it also provides ample shade, it is one of the favorite places for the birds to visit and stay.

Question: What grows well with Red Twig Dogwood?

Answer: There are various companion plants that can be grown alongside red twig dogwood for added aesthetics. Some of them are maples, pine and red oaks, junipers, highbush blueberries, and Austrian black pines. 

Question: How fast does Red Twig Dogwood grow?

Answer: Red Twig Dogwood can get a lot bigger and taller. They grow at an average rate of 24 inches or 2 feet per year. They can grow up to 8 feet tall.

Question: How much sun does a red twig dogwood need?

Answer: Red Twig Dogwood is a light hungry plant. It grows well under direct sunlight and shows the brightest colors. 

Question: Why is my Red Twig Dogwood dying?

Answer: You need to protect Red Twig Dogwood from the attack of insects and pests. Canker disease often attacks it even though the plant looks healthy.