What is it? In summer, this cornus looks like a humdrum shrub. But in autumn comes the big reveal: foliage reddens and falls to show stunning stems that start yellow at the base, turn orange and then scarlet at the tips. Perfect for cutting through the winter gloom.

Plant it with? Other winter performers: the lime-green flowers of the stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), the dramatic foliage of variegated arum (Arum italicum subsp italicum ‘Marmoratum’) or the drama of black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’).

And where? Damp soil is preferred: beside a pond, perhaps, where the water will reflect the bright stems. Full sun will bring out the best colour, but partial shade will be tolerated. And give it space: this is a vigorous, hardy shrub that will reach a height and spread of 3m x 2.5m. It can be kept more compact with rigorous pruning in early spring.

Any drawbacks? Position carefully in a mixed border to prevent it dominating or being dominated by other plants. A dedicated winter border is the answer.

What else does it do? There are small, white flowers in June followed by black berries.

Buy it Order one 9cm potted plant for £11.99, or buy two for £23.98 and get another free. All orders include free p&p. Call 0330 333 6856, quoting ref GUA696. Or visit our Reader Offers page. Delivery from November.

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Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ (Dogwood ‘Winter Beauty’)

Botanical name

Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’

Other names


Cornus Cornus

Variety or Cultivar

‘Winter Beauty’ _ ‘Winter Beauty’ is an upright, deciduous shrub with red-flushed, yellow-orange stems bearing oval, mid-green leaves turning yellow-orange in autumn. Dense, flat cymes of white flowers in summer are followed by spherical, blue-black fruit.




Bushy, Upright


The fruits may cause a mild stomach ache if ingested.

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White in Summer

Green in Spring; Green in Summer; Yellow-orange in Autumn

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Horse chestnut scale


Generally disease-free.

General care


Pruning group 7 to maintain colourful stems and a compact habit.

Propagation methods

Hardwood cuttings, Seed

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Where to grow

Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ (Dogwood ‘Winter Beauty’) will reach a height of 3m and a spread of 2.5m after 5-10 years.

Suggested uses

Beds and borders, City, Containers, Cottage/Informal, Low Maintenance, Wildlife


Plant in well-drained to moist soil in sun or partial shade.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Partial Shade, Full Sun


North, South, East, West


Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ (Dogwood ‘Winter Beauty’)

Common pest name

Alfalfa dwarf; Anaheim disease; California vine disease; Dwarf disease of alfalfa; Dwarf disease of lucerne; Leaf scald of oleander; Leaf scald of plum; Leaf scorch; Phony disease of peach; Pierce’s disease of grapevine; Variegated chlorosis of citrus

Scientific pest name

Xylella fastidiosa subsp. multiplex



Current status in UK


Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

A bacterial disease with a wide host range detected in Corsica. Although EU regulated; there remains some concern about the risk of introduction. This subspecies is known to be able to thrive in cooler climates. Should an outbreak occur; there would be a need for eradication action which would result in environmental and social impacts.

Defra’s Risk register #2

Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ (Dogwood ‘Winter Beauty’)

Black timber bark beetle; Smaller alnus bark beetle; tea root borer

Xylosandrus germanus


Present (Limited)

Likelihood to spread in UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Ambrosia beetle affecting a wide range of trees and woody hosts. Widespread in Europe and elsewhere and now present in the south of England. Impacts can be reduced by good silvicultural practices. Surveillance is being carried out to better determine distribution.

Defra’s Risk register #3

Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ (Dogwood ‘Winter Beauty’)

; Apple bark beetle; Asian ambrosia beetle; Granulate ambrosia beetle

Xylosandrus crassiusculus



Ambrosia beetle which can affect a wide range of broadleaved trees; widespread in Africa; Asia and parts of the US; with outbreaks in France and Italy. The UK climate is unlikely to be suitable for the pest to thrive and cause significant damage but needs to be investigated through research. A Europe-wide PRA will help inform the case for EU regulation. Premises involved in importing wood and host plants from Italy in particular; where official measures are not being taken; should source material carefully.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit: https://planthealthportal.defra.gov.uk/


Article by David Marks
There many types of Cornus (commonly known as Dogwood) but they can broadly be categorised as those grown for winter interest (the subject of this article) and those grown for their flowers (click here for more information). Winter interest dogwoods include varieties of Cornus alba, Cornus sericea and Cornus sanguinea which is native to the UK. They are grown almost exclusively for the beauty of their coloured bark which adds winter long interest to any garden.

Use the checklist below to decide if a winter interest Cornus shrub is suited to your preferences and garden conditions:

  • They loose their leaves in winter which exposes their stems in a range of bright colours from red to yellow
  • They are fully hardy in all areas of the UK.
  • All soils except dry conditions are suitable. It grows quickest in a slightly deep loam type soil although this is not essential. They do equally well in acid or alkaline soil and will survive very damp conditions.
  • A winter Cornus prefers full sun although also does well in partial shade. Avoid full shade positions. The sun allows the deep colour of the stems to develop fully.
  • Once established, they rarely require watering and will tolerate moderate drought.
  • If left unpruned they reach a height of 6m / 19ft but most gardeners prune every year or to produce the maximum colour. At the regularity of pruning they normally reach a height of 2m / 6ft.
  • They can be planted singly but probably look best when two or three are planted together. Recommended planting distance is 60cm / 2ft apart to maximise their colour impact.
  • They can be grown as loose hedges (60cm / 2ft apart) but will not be dense enough to provide a barrier.
  • Pest and disease resistance is excellent.
  • Most definitely an easy care shrub requiring only a prune every year or two to keep it in shape.


We list below three readily available Dogwood varieties which we recommend.

Cornus alba Sibirica

The leaves turn red in autumn then fall off in winter to reveal the red stems. Small white flowers are produced in June time but the are hardly noticeable. Grows slightly shorter than many other varieties making it suitable for small gardens.

One of our top recommended varieties and it has won an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. Height and spread are both about 2 metres at maturity in 7 years time.

Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire

A beautiful winter shrub with stems that vary from orange at the base and mid section to red at the top. This is a native of the UK. This is not a quick grower so we would recommend only pruning a quarter of the stems down to ground level every year or so. Height and spread are both about 2 metres at maturity in 8 years time.

Cornus sericea Flaviramea

The stems of this variety are olive green. Relatively slow growing, looks good when grown next a red stemmed variety. It has won an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. Height is about 2 metres and spread is about 3.5 metres at maturity in 7 years time.


If you want to buy online and have your plants delivered to your door, our recommendation for winter interest Cornus would be Crocus. They stock not only regular sized plants but also larger ones for instant effect. to view these plants on their website. As well as online, many garden centres sell winter interest Dogwood however the choice of varieties is likely to be restricted.


Follow the steps below to ensure your winter interest Cornus is planted correctly and in the best position:

  • Choose a full sun to partial shade position. The plant needs some air circulation so although it will thrive against a wall or fence, avoid planting it in the corner of two walls fences.
  • If the soil is heavy or is not free draining add lots of well rotted compost to the area and dig it in well.
  • It can be planted all year long if the soil is not frozen and you can water well when conditions are dry. Mid March to April and mid September to October are the best times to plant this shrub.
  • Dig a hole twice the width of the rootball. Sprinkle in a handful of blood, fish and bone and work into the ground.
  • Place the plant into the hole, filling in with soil so that it is at the same depth as was in the pot. Fill around the rootball and firm the soil down gently but firmly. Water well to settle the surrounding ground around the rootball.

If you want to grow winter interest Cornus as a hedge, individual plants should be about 60cm / 2ft apart.


The key factor for having a good winter display is regular pruning. The brightest coloured stems are those which are one or two years old. Any older than that and the colour will noticeably start to fade. The next factor to take into account is that Cornus grown on fertile soil will grow quicker compared to the same plant on poor soil.

Pruning of winter interest Cornus is best done in late March. As a rule of thumb we we would recommend pruning every year by removing to ground level about a half of the stems, choosing the older looking ones. The remaining stems should be pruned to half their length. This will encourage new growth yet at the same time retain some of the structure of the shrub.

Newly planted Cornus are best left to their own devices for two or three years until they have established themselves well. They tend to be slow to establish but after two to three years they grow strongly


Dogwoods are not really suitable for growing in containers. The shrubs prefer moist soil all year round and this would be difficult to achieve in a container. The plants are also quite large so would require a very large container.


Winter interest Cornus are immune to Cornus Anthracnose. Few other problems affect them although the most common is described below.


This fungal disease spreads underground from plant / tree to other other plants / trees. It attacks the root system and causes it to gradually be unable to absorb moisture and nutrients. The key signs are a generally unhealthy plant with white fungus appearing near ground level on the stems. If you dig carefully to roots under the ground the white material will be clearer on the roots.

In all likelihood your cornus will not be the only shrub affected, other shrubs are more susceptible. We suggest you research this disease online / in books because it is extremely difficult to eradicate. Often the only course of action is to dig up and burn the affected shrubs and plant those which are resistant to honey fungus.


Below we list the key strengths and weaknesses of winter interest Cornus.

HARDY (to lower than -20°C / -4°F )
SANDY SOIL Yes if improved
SHADE No, partial, full sun
EVERGREEN No but stems provide winter interest
FLOWERING insignificant but winter interest stems
FLOWER TIME Not relevant

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