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 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 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.
Cornus sanguinea, commonly known as blood twig dogwood, European dogwood or common dogwood, is an upright, round-topped, spreading, twiggy, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that typically matures to 8-15’ tall and as wide. It is native to northern Europe and northwestern Asia. Simple broad-elliptic to ovate leaves (to 2-4” long and to 1 3/4” wide) are dark green above and villous on both sides. Dull white flowers with a fetid fragrance bloom in loose clusters (pubescent cymes to 2” diameter) in May to early June. Flowers are followed by blue-black fruit (drupes to 1/ 4” across) which mature in August-September. Fruit is not particularly showy. Fall color can be a stunning red-purple, but often falls short of this mark by appearing greenish-purple. Stem is slender, hairy, usually purple or dark blood red but often greenish on the lower side. Older branches are greenish gray.
Genus name comes from the Latin word cornu meaning horn in probable reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry.
Specific epithet comes from the Latin word sanguineus meaning blood red in reference to both the red fall foliage color and the reddish twigs and young stems of this shrub.
Blood twig dogwood is a misleading common name for this species. New twigs and young stems have red color, but by and large the mature stems on this plant are greenish-gray. Considerable variation in stem color. Blood twig common name may have been given to this species in regard to fall color rather than young stems.
'Midwinter Fire' is for its colorful stems and twigs in winter. It grows to 5' tall and 6' wide over 8 years. The outstanding ornamental features of this cultivar are: (1) yellow winter stems which are tipped with red twigs and (2) golden yellow fall foliage color. Broadly elliptic to ovate, medium green leaves (to 3" long). Tiny white flowers appear in flat-topped clusters (cymes) in late spring. Flowers give way to clusters of dark purple drupes in summer. Fruit is not showy, but is attractive to birds. Fall color is golden yellow.
No serious insect or disease problems.
Shrub border. Screen. Mass in areas where the ornamental qualities of the reddish-colored new-growth twigs can be enjoyed.