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Dogwood shrubs let you enjoy many of the characteristics of dogwood trees on a smaller scale. Several species native to North American produce flowers for local pollinators and berries for wildlife. Shrub dogwoods range from red osier and tatarian dogwood (the winter superstars that sport brightly colored stems) to silky dogwood and kousa dogwood that are grown for their striking flowers and outstanding fall color. Add dogwood shrubs to a mixed shrub border or a perennial planting.
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Part Sun, Sun
From 3 to 20 feet or more
To 20 feet wide, depending on type
Dogwood Shrub Care Must-Knows
Grow dogwood shrubs in full sun or part shade and moist soil. Many dogwood shrubs grow well in soil that is wet for short periods during the growing season, which makes them suitable for rain gardens and low spots in the landscape. Silky and red osier dogwoods are especially tolerant of consistently moist soil. When purchasing plants, read the plant tag to ensure your growing location matches the plant's moisture requirements.
Plant dogwood shrubs in spring or early summer. Water the shrubs well after planting and spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the root zone to prevent soil-moisture loss. Water plants regularly during the first growing season to promote a strong root system.
Dogwood shrubs don't require frequent pruning, but you can intensify winter stem color by removing older canes regularly. That's because young woody stems produce bright red, yellow, or orange-red winter color. In early spring cut back about one-third of the oldest, most faded stems. Remove damaged or dead stems at the same time. Each subsequent spring cut back another third of the stems. When the pruned dogwood shrub emerges from dormancy in the spring, you'll see an increased number of colorful stems appearing as a result.