Plant of the Week: Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood

Each winter season on the High Line brings new discoveries and challenges that the gardeners must work with to keep the plants healthy and beautiful until March cutback. Between the high winds, frigid temperatures, ice, and snow storms, some of the plants can look slightly tattered by mid-February. Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood is one hardy shrub that remains vibrant throughout the harsh High Line winters.

Photo by Beverly Israely.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' is unique in that its showiest feature cannot be seen until after leaf drop in fall. The bare twigs are a warm orange-yellow that increasingly becomes pink, coral, to red at the tips. The colors are similar to a cozy winter fire, hence the cultivar name 'Midwinter Fire' or 'Winter Flame'. The small white flowers which appear in mid-June seem quite subtle compared to this radiance. Golden fall foliage hints of the brilliance to follow.

Photo by Beverly Israely.

Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood is a deciduous shrub that is native to Europe and western Asia where its suckering habit is well utilized in hedgerows. Cornus sanguinea typically grows to five feet tall and wide, but is noted for growing slower than other Cornus genera. In addition to their ornamental features, the stems of the shrub are tough and durable. Historically, they were used as arrows, prods, and skewers.

Cornus sanguinea will grow in sun to part shade and prefers moist, well-drained soils, but is tolerant of a wide range of soils. Regular pruning is recommended for maximum winter interest since the new growth is more colorful. This can be accomplished through removing older stems each year or pruning all stems to three inches every two to three years.

You can see this shrub shining brightly in 10thAvenue Square, at West 17th Street, and in the Chelsea Thicket, between West 21st and 22nd Streets.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.

TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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