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Tatarian dogwood

Red stems of tatarian dogwood in winter with snow and evergreen trees in the background
Red winter stems of First Edition® Baton Rouge™

(Cornus alba) is the Asian relative of Minnesota’s native redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea). Both shrubs are known for their colorful winter bark. Flowers, fruit, cultural requirements and landscape uses are very similar.

Tatarian dogwood is used as a border, mass, screen or specimen plant in landscapes.

The fruits are a popular food for songbirds.

Tatarian dogwood is adaptable to most planting sites. Do not plant in full shade.

In late summer, younger stems will start to turn from green to red or yellow-green.

Color intensifies throughout winter until spring when stem color returns to green.

Tatarian dogwood shrub with variegated leaves in a garden landscape
Plant form of Ivory Halo®

Description

  • Deciduous shrub; it drops its leaves in fall
  • Height: 3 to 10 feet
  • Width: 3 to 10 feet
  • Fast growth rate
  • Rounded, arching plant form
  • 2 to 5 inch leaves
  • 2-inch clusters of small, 4-petaled, yellowish-white flowers in mid-May to June
  • Small, round, white to pale blue fruit mature in late summer and autumn
Variegated leaves of tartarian dogwood surrounding a cluster of white berries
Variegated leaves and white berries of 'Argenteo-marginata'

Growing Tatarian dogwood

  • Hardiness zone: 3 to 7
  • Plant in full sun to part shade
  • Best soil properties for Tatarian dogwood:
    • Sandy to clay soils

    • Soil pH 5.5 to 7.0, Have your soil tested by the U of M Soil Testing Lab

    • Prefers moist soils and well-drained soils, adaptable to drier and wetter soils

Common problems

For most Tatarian dogwoods, brightly colored bark occurs on stems that are less than 3 years old so pruning should be a regular practice. Remove the oldest third of stems down to the base of the plant every year or two.

This is a suckering species and over time, suckers may need to be removed to maintain plant width.

Leaf spot is a common disease.

Visit What's wrong with my shrub? – Dogwood for a list of the most common dogwood pests in Minnesota.

Yellow winter stems of tatarian dogwood in winter with snow and evergreen trees in the background
Yellow winter stems of 'Bud's Yellow'

Cultivated varieties of Tatarian dogwood for Minnesota

Cultivated varieties have been selected for stem color, fall color, plant form and size, and pest and stress tolerances.

  • 'Argenteo-marginata' - red winter stems, variegated foliage, compact habit
  • 'Bud's Yellow' - yellow winter stems, fall color
  • First Edition®Baton Rouge™ - red winter stems
  • Ivory Halo® - red winter stems, variegated foliage, compact habit
  • Red Gnome™ - red winter stems, compact habit

Beth Berlin, former Extension educator and Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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