Growing Cornus for Winter Interest

Grow Cornus As A Winter Ornamental Tree

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by Real Men Sow

There are many types of Cornus (commonly known as Dogwood) but they can broadly be categorized as those grown for winter interest and those grown for their flowers. Winter interest dogwoods include varieties of Cornus alba, Cornus sericea and Cornus sanguinea which is native to the UK. Cornus ornamental trees are grown almost exclusively for the beauty of their coloured bark which adds winter long interest to any garden.

Winter Interest Cornus

They lose their leaves in winter which expose their stems in a range of bright colours from red to yellow and are fully hardy in all areas of the UK.

What Soil Type Is The Best For Cornus Trees (Dogwood)?

All soils except dry conditions are suitable. It grows quickest in a slightly deep loam type soil although this is not essential. They do equally well in acid or neutral soil and will survive very damp conditions. A winter Cornus prefers full sun although also does well in partial shade. Avoid full shade positions. The sun allows the deep colour of the stems to develop fully.

Once established, they rarely require watering and will tolerate moderate drought. If left unpruned they reach a height of 6m / 19ft but most gardeners prune every year or to produce the maximum colour. At the regularity of pruning, they normally reach a height of 2m / 6ft.

Planting Cornus Tree Varieties: Alba, Sanguinea, or Sericea

  1. You should choose a position that is full sun to part shade. It needs air circulation to thrive so it should not be planted in the corners of fences or walls.
  2. Add lots of compost to heavy soils and make sure it drains well.
  3. You can plant it all year long as long as the soil isn’t frozen and that you water well when it gets dry. This shrub is best planted between March and April and September through October.
  4. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball. Add a few drops of blood, fish, and bone to the hole and then work it into the ground.
  5. Fill the hole with soil to the same depth as the pot. Firmly but gently fill the hole around the root ball. To settle the soil around the root ball, water well.

Individual plants of winter interest Cornus should be at least 60cm apart.

Pruning Cornus Trees (Dogwood)

Regular pruning is the key to a beautiful winter display. One- to two year old stems will be the most vibrant. The colour will start to fade if it is more than one or two years old. Next, Cornus that is grown in fertile soil will be more productive than one grown in poor soil.

Winter interest Cornus should be pruned in March. It’s recommended that you prune every year. This means that about half the stems should be removed to the ground, and the remaining ones should be chosen. Reduce the remaining stems to about half their length. This will encourage new growth, but also preserve some of the structure.

Cornus plants are best left alone for at least two to three years after they have established themselves. Although they can take a while to establish, they will eventually become strong after two to three more years.

Growing Cornus In Containers

Dogwoods do not like to be grown in containers. These shrubs thrive in moist soil, which is difficult to obtain in a container. These plants can also be quite large, so a large container is necessary if you really want to grow them in containers.

Pests and Diseases

Winter interest Cornus are immune to Cornus Anthracnose.

Honey Fungus on Dogwood

This fungal disease spreads underground, from one plant to another. It causes the root system to become ineffective at absorbing nutrients and moisture. A generally unhealthy plant will have white fungus near the ground on its stems. The white material will be easier to see if you get under the soil.

Your cornus won’t be the only affected shrub. Other shrubs are more likely to be affected. This disease is very difficult to eradicate so we recommend you do your research online. The only way to eliminate this disease is to cut down and burn the affected trees and plant the ones that are resistant to honey fungus.

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