Red Twig Dogwood – Growing in Georgia

Q: I planted a red twig dogwood bush about three months ago. At first, it seemed to be doing very well. Now the growth seems to have slowed quite a bit and the leaves seem to be falling off. The leaves that remain look crinkly and are brown around the edges. I try to keep it pretty watered, but it still seems to be going downhill. Any ideas?

A: I have four answers from local gardeners for you:

Daryl Pulis (www.MrsGreenThumb.com): “They stink for me. It’s gorgeous not too far north of us, and the Red Twig was pretty good here in the early (and cold) 80’s, but it fizzled out in the 90’s and I’ve given up on it. The yellow never seemed to thrive for me. No great loss, since we don’t often have enough snow to really show it off, but it was pretty against the white siding of the house. I don’t know whether it’s soil, weather, or my enthusiasm for other things, and I never babied it, but I’ll not try it again. Every now and then I think of the masses of it that I saw while at prep school in New England, but I wouldn’t trade those winters for all the pretty twigs in the world.”

Shannon Pable (www.ShannonPable.com): “My red twig has done really well. I actually planted it in a dry hot area I decided not to prune my red twig to see what would happen…it grew into a multi-trunk 12’+ tree. In late spring it has clusters of tiny creamy white flowers later turning to beautiful clusters of blue berries in late summer. Only the new end growth of the branches in winter is red. I believe I have success with these since I’m at the highest elevation in Gwinnett County…my natural area is spotted w/ Mtn Laurels and native azaleas”

Theresa Schrum (www.ecoterralandscape.com): “I think Shannon had much more success with it because she planted it at her retention pond where the soil stayed wet. I honestly believe that the further south you go, the more wet soil it needs. In Montana, it grows in normal garden soil.”

Bruce Holliday (www.landscapeplansplus.com): “I agree with Daryl. I have never seen one on a landscape that looks good. I do not use them, because I have looked at them in failed landscapes when a customer calls me to fix all the bad things in their yard. They look good at the flower shows….and look good as an “annual shrub”.”

My conclusion: full sun but constantly moist (not soggy) soil is key….but don’t expect success 100% of the time.

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