Shrubby dogwoods offer multi-season interest with spring flowers, summer fruits, fall foliage, and colorful winter stems
The genus Cornus not only contains flowering dogwood trees (C. florida) but also includes shrubs and subshrubs, grown for their ornamental value. Although dogwood shrubs are usually not as showy as dogwood trees, they are more robust and often offer year-round interest. Along with attractive foliage, they bloom in clusters in spring, and some produce beautiful berries in summer and/or turn brilliant shades in fall. But some shrubby dogwoods are grown primarily for their striking fiery red or purple-black stems that are most prominent in winter and are especially beautiful against freshly fallen snow.
Cornus is a genus that includes several popular shrub species, such as C. sericea or C. stolonifera (red twig dogwood), C. alba (red-barked dogwood, tatarian dogwood), C. amomum (silky dogwood), C. sanguinea (common dogwood, bloodtwig dogwood), and C. racemose (gray dogwood). Easy to grow, dogwoods prefer full sun to shade and moist, rich soil. In nature, they are usually found growing in temperate climates along streams, around bodies of water, or in wet meadows or thickets, so they are tolerant of swampy or boggy conditions. But they are typically tolerant of a wide range of soils and are also drought tolerant once established. The plants are deer and rabbit resistant.
Usually growing as wide as they are tall (sometimes wider), the multi-stemmed shrubs grow quickly and have a sprawling, suckering growth habit and may form extensive colonies under optimal conditions. Dogwood shrubs are small enough for containers and make excellent specimens, but they are stunning when grouped or massed in a hedge or border.