Cornus sanguinea 'Cato' ARCTIC SUN
Common Name: bloodtwig dogwood
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Cornaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Erosion


Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. Prefers consistently moist, well-drained soils. Best yellow stem color occurs on young stems. Although pruning is not required, many gardeners choose to remove 20-25% of the oldest stems in early spring of each year to stimulate growth of new stems which will display the best yellow color. As an alternative to annual pruning, some gardeners prune all stems close to the ground in early spring every 2-3 years to renew. Any loss of flowers through spring pruning is not terribly significant since the small flowers of this dogwood are rather ordinary. Remove root suckers if desired to prevent colonial spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics

ARCTIC SUN is a dwarf bloodtwig dogwood cultivar that is primarily grown for its bright yellow winter stems with crimson tips which are particularly showy against a snowy backdrop. It typically grows to 3-4’ tall and as wide with dense stems. Tiny white flowers appear in flat-topped clusters (to 2.5” diameter) in late spring, with sparse, intermittent, additional flowering sometimes continuing into summer. Flowers give way to clusters of whitish (sometimes with a bluish tinge) drupes in late summer. Fruit is quite attractive to birds and is generally considered to have as much if not more ornamental interest than the flowers. However, it is the yellow winter stems that really distinguish this shrub. Although C. sanguinea plants are generally given the common name of bloodtwig dogwood, ARCTIC SUN is sometimes commonly called yellow twig dogwood because of its winter stems. Ovate to lanceolate, dark green leaves (2-4” long). Leaves turn golden yellow in autumn. U. S. Plant Patent Applied For (PPAF).


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Excellent dwarf selection for smaller gardens. Mass in areas where the yellow stems in winter can be enjoyed. Effective in shrub borders where plants can be combined with evergreens or red twig dogwoods (e.g., Cornus sericea ‘Farrow’ ARCTIC FIRE) for interesting winter contrast.