DecorativeHedgesTrees & Bushes

How To Grow Red Dogwood Trees?

red dogwood tree

Red dogwood trees are small trees or shrubs, which have red stems in the winter. There are about 30-60 species of dogwood (Cornus) and three of them have red stems and twins – Bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), Red osier dogwood (Cornus seriecea), and Batarian dogwood (Cornus alba). Dogwood trees also attract a lot of birds!

All three varieties are quite similar. In autumn, the foliage of red dogwood trees gets really colorful with a lot of shades. Red dogwood inflorescence are small white flowers, which turn into white berries with shades of blue and green. Dogwood berries differ in toxicity, some of them are toxic and some of them are not. Unless you are sure about the species, it’s best not to eat dogwood berries.

Most dogwood trees grow quite slowly, but red dogwood trees are among the faster ones, growing about 2 feet (60 cm) in a year. They are great as borders and privacy hedges from spring to fall. Red dogwood trees are very popular, because they provide color throughout all seasons and are easy to care for.

Even though taking care of red dogwood trees is easy, knowing how to take care of them properly can help you achieve a beautiful looking hedge. In this article, we will tell you how to grow red dogwood trees.

Red Dogwood Tree Care

Red dogwood trees are easy to care for, they can grow in different types of soil, even in soggy soil. These trees are fast growers and need regular pruning to grow as a hedge. Other than that, they are very low-maintenance and provide beautiful colors.

red dogwood tree
Red Dogwood Tree during winter Source: David


Red dogwood trees thrive in USDA Hardiness zones 3-8. They can survive almost everywhere, except for extremely hot and arid environments. Very humid environments can be problematic as well since they might be infected with a disease called canker.


Red dogwood trees can be grown in full sun or partial shade. However, it will produce beautiful colorful foliage and distinct red stems in full sun.

colorful foliage red dogwood tree
Red dogwood tree foliage in autumn Source: Naturalflow

Soil & Fertilizer

These small shrubs can grow in any soil, that has moisture and nutrients in it. The best soil for red dogwood trees is slightly acidic, pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. To help retain moisture for these colorful shrubs, cover them with a layer of pine bark mulch, which will also help the soil stay acidic and help protect the roots against very low temperature winters.

Fertilizing is not necessary for red dogwood trees. Although, if you need faster growth add fish emulsion or compost early in the spring.


The soil should be kept moist at all times, one thing this tree will not tolerate for long periods is dry soil. Mature plants can withstand a week or more without water, even in drought. If you happen to live in a dry climate, you might have to look for an alternative shrub. Another option is to grow them next to a pond or a stream.

flowers of red osier dogwood
Flowers of Red osier dogwood Source: born1945


Propagating red dogwood trees is not very difficult, here’s how you should do it:

  1. With a sharp tool, cut off a long piece of hardwood late in the fall
  2. Split the cutting into 6 inch (15 cm) pieces
  3. Remove branches and leaves from the pieces
  4. Dip the lower end in rooting hormone
  5. Plant the cuttings in containers filled with potting soil
  6. When spring comes, move the containers outside in a sunny place
  7. Rooting can take up to one year, you can transplant safely them next spring


To maximize color and keep it in an orderly shape, it’s best to prune red dogwood trees annually. Cut back at least 1/3 of the stems, unless you want the plant to grow taller. It is easiest to prune early in the spring or late in the fall when there are no leaves. You can even prune it to the base of the plant, it will easily grow back in no time.

Pests & Diseases

Red dogwood trees can get fungal diseases, when growing in high-humidity environments, such as canker, leaf spots, twig blights, and leaf blights. Disease-ridden branches should be pruned.

Leaf miners, bagworms, and scale are pests you need to look out for. They usually do not affect the health of the plant, unless there’s a major pest infestation, in which case you should use chemical fungicides.

Last Thoughts

Red dogwood trees are shrubs that provide colors throughout all seasons, they are easy to care for, because they can grow in most environments. Keep its soil moist and plant it in full sun, to get the best results.

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