Redtwig dogwoods and deer

smordFebruary 8, 2010

I'm considering putting in a hedge of redtwig dogwoods (thinking of cornus alba although I'm open to info on the other two sereccea??? and sanguina) to define the property line between my yard and the neighbor's yard. I know there are many downsides to hedges, but I definitely want one as it makes the statement "I Am A Fence".

I want to it just be green and boring during the summertime so my border can shine, and be nice massed show of red in the winter.

I know the deer will definitely pick at it. my question - how well will the hedge hold up? My understanding is that redtwigs benefit from being pruned hard on an annual basis, so some munching is fine - but will the deer totally decimate them?


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Liable to clip the leaves and new growth during the growing season.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 8:37PM
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Shrub dogwoods are typically considered deer resistant (not deer proof - very little is :-)). Cornus sericea is native to much of the US and native stands in my area seem to be to be pretty much immune from predation. And it's a pretty tough, adaptable plant. Non-variegated forms don't have a lot to say for themselves in season but are stunning in winter, especially against a snowy backdrop.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 9:18PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Deer love cornus alba in my area...they are considered salad.

The funny thing is that cornus alba is considered deer resistant beyond local sources.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 9:32PM
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Actually a few of my fellow gardening enthusiasts and I have considered starting a non-profit to improve literacy rates among deer so they can READ the deer-resistant-plant lists we make.

That's one of the downsides of a single-plant hedge-- if the deer happen to like that plant that hedge.

I suppose it's ok if they clip the new growth sometimes as long as it's not all the new growth all the time.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 11:42PM
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What is the advantage of alba over sericea and vice versa?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 11:48PM
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The three - alba, sericea and sanguinea - are quite similar in appearance, hardiness and adaptability to various sites. C. sericea is slightly hardier than the other two but not significantly so. It is also native to many parts of the northern US, so that could prove favorable. Otherwise, I'd select based on availability and specific characteristics, like size, stem color, variegation (or not), etc. In my climate, selections of sanguinea are often subject to leaf blights or cankers, alba much less so and sericea virtually not at all. Sanguinea is supposed to be more tolerant of alkaline soils also.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 12:12PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

"extremely important winter browse for moose, deer and elk"

--Pojar/Mackinnon, Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (1994, B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 12:28PM
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I plant the native, Asian, and European ones here in NE with no noticeable difference in performance.

In general for RTs the percieved color is typically burgundy with the variegated ones having less spectacular color. The burgundy color in dim winter light takes on a dark appearance, and not the bright red ideal in mind when planning the garden. The dark burgundy can appear washed out or hidden amid the typically winter hues found in the landscape A few grey twigs in the mix or around it will help to show the contrast and call out the coloration. The RT do look there best on a sunny winter day, and a contrasting evergreen backdrop also provides a nice color contrast. Another dogwood to consider is the yellow twigs and the newer cultivars (my favorite winter flame) with mixes of red/yellow.

Planting the border with some depth also will help to increase the twig density to make it stand out more.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 10:38PM
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interestingly, the red twig color is most vibrant for me in late March, early April.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I like the way 'Cardinal' shows up. But I also like the darkness of 'Kesselringii'.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 6:13PM
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The deer 'pruned' our red twig the first year, but it came back ok throughout the summer. The second winter, they ate it to the ground - it didn't come back.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 8:36AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Like I mentioned, they love em in my area.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:39AM
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Deer eat red twig dogwoods, if you don't mind a short fence.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 11:44PM
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Sanguina - mine are very prone to leaf & twig disease. Once it's established it grows very fast & tall, sends out alot of runners that need to be dug-out & is a maintenance issue for me. If I didn't cut them back 3x/yr they'd be >12'h w/ gray trunks. No critters chew on this one, but I plan to dig them out soon. The amazing stem color is not worth the chemicals & labor. Plus, this type has tiny t-shape hairs on the leaves that stick in your skin & feel like nettles - some people are more sensitive than others - but I need long sleeves to trim this dogwood.

Alba & redtwig - Both deer & rabbits, & maybe foxes chew on them. They prefer alba, then move to the redtwig. It was difficult to get a good balanced shape to the shrubs, as the rabbits go for the thin colored stems coming up from the base. In winter the snowdrifts allows them to cut the stems 24" up - in spring they cut at the base. I moved a redtwig to a sheltered but dry spot for the rabbits, & now it's only 3'h, but 5'w due to their goofy pruning, & just noticed it's suffering cuz something dug a nest/hole at it's base & alot of roots are exposed.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 10:39AM
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