Variegated Dogwood

A Guide to Growing Variegated Dogwood

Variegated dogwood is also known as red twig dogwood. That’s because during its winter dormant season, with variegated dogwood, all you can see are its bare branches which are a very beautiful shade of red. It looks particularly pretty when surrounded by fresh, white snow. It is really a nice plant. If you can place the bush where it can be seen from a window you can enjoy it year-round.



Variegated dogwood is a broadleaf, deciduous plant. It grows to be around 8 feet high. The term, “variegated” applies to the leaves which a greenish-gray and edged with white. The flowers are also white and form clusters on the plant. Once the flowers are gone, the fruit of the plant is formed and appears as white berries. The plant can look a little reddish in the fall but it really is nice looking in the winter when the red bark is showing.

Variegated dogwood can withstand quite a lot of cold as you can grow it in USDA hardiness zones 3-8. You can plant red twig dogwood in full sun or partial shade. There are some differing views as to whether the plant most likes wet or well-drained soil. Both have been reported by gardeners. You will just have to try it out and see how it grows in your location.

The most popular characteristic of variegated dogwood is its diversity. Because it bears flowers, berries and has visual winter appeal, it can be a standout in the yard during every season. The number one buying factor is its red branches. There is also a yellow dogwood with yellow branches, and growing the two together makes for a particularly stunning looking yard.

Variegated dogwood does not require a lot of care. However, the older branches do seem to have their colors fade from a bright red to a duller red each year. In order to maintain the bright red of the original bush, it is necessary to prune the plant back each year. Cutting the branches back by one-third will help there to be plenty of new growth that is bright red for next season.

The variegated dogwood plant is native to Asia and there the plants are known as Tatarian or Tatarian dogwoods. If you decide you like the looks of this dogwood and purchase some to plant, this is how to go about it. Dig a hole that is just the height of the rootball, so that its top is right at ground level. The hole should be at least double the width of the rootball.

Try tapping on the sides of the container to loosen any dirt and slide the plant out of the original container. If the roots are covered with burlap, you should cut off at least 50% of it to expose the roots. Then just water the empty hole and wait until all of the ground is soaked. Then place the plant in the middle of the hole so that the top is even or just a hair above the ground.

Return the soil to the hole and press down on it gently to pack it in. Then water the plant thoroughly again. Spread mulch under the plant and around the area. This will help keep the moisture in the soil and it will also keep the weeds from growing too high and smothering the plant. Put at least three inches of mulch on the ground.

There are many different species of dogwoods but there are also several different kinds of dogwood with red bark. As noted, red twig dogwoods come from Asia, red osier dogwoods are native to North America, and bloodtwig dogwoods are native to Europe.