Shrub Dogwood Trials

By Charlie Nardozzi

Shrub forms of dogwood (Cornus) make excellent landscape plants and are widely used by landscapers around the country. They are known for their green or variegated foliage, attractive flowers and fruits, fall foliage color, and colorful stems in winter. However, with so many dogwood varieties available, it's often difficult for homeowners to choose the best one.

Since 1999 Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has been evaluating 33 different types of shrub dogwoods for plant habit, size, foliage, flowering, fruiting, and pest resistance at their USDA zone 6 public garden. They have rated each species on a scale of 1 to 5 for each characteristic. Here are the top-scoring dogwoods by category.

The top-ranked species dogwood was Cornus sericea var. coloradensis. This North American native had better leaf, stem, and fruiting than other species and a more symmetrical, round habit.

The top variegated-leaf dogwood was Cornus alba 'Argenteomarginata'. This cultivar has beautiful green and white variegated leaves with a tinge of rose coloring in summer. It was especially resistant to disease.

The best yellow-twigged dogwood was Cornus alba 'Bud's Yellow'. It has exceptional stem color from a distance. The best red-stemmed dogwood was Cornus sericea 'Baileyi'. It stood out for its bright stems and nice plant form.

For more information on these dogwood trials, contact: Longwood Gardens.

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