Red Twig dogwood ‘Arctic Fire’

Winter interest.

Oh that elusive winter interest.

It is in the single digits here today so winter is clearly front of mind.

With four long months of fall/winter here in the NJ, and as good as the browns and greens may look, anything that can lend a unique color to the landscape is something worth investing in. And after four years of “investing” in a redtwig dogwood (‘Arctic Fire’ to be exact), I am proud to announce that I have successfully kept one alive and thriving, browsing deer be damned.

More details on ‘Arctic Fire’ (Cornus stolonifera):
*Typical size is 4′ x 4′
*Survives in zones 3-7
*Blooms in May-June (though I have yet to witness, no biggie)
*Works in full to partial sun
*Tolerant of most soils, including my almost boggy conditions

Here she is current state:


And from a few weeks ago:

Just about bare, and ready to carry me through the winter with her glistening red stems.
While this shrub puts on its best show during the winter, it looks “nice” in spring/summer with its clean foliage, reddish stems and leaf shape:
Of course it took me years to get to this point. I have had it chewed down to the ground many, many times and just about had given up on it. But then I took a chance and placed it in a partial shade spot hoping the deer would be dumb enough to miss it.

I am proud to announce the deer were indeed dumb and have not touched it since. Here are some of the old pics as the dogwood struggled to find its footing:

As dumb and counterproductive as it sounds, I plan on pruning this shrub back severely in spring to maintain that bright red stem color and will be sure to track its success/failure. Until then, bank on way too many photos of the stems covered in snow.
UPDATE: To see how I’ve handled pruning this shrub each winter/spring, read here.  

10 thoughts on “Red Twig dogwood ‘Arctic Fire’

  1. Kris Peterson

    Very pretty winter color. The closest equivalent I can think of in my area on the left coast is the coral bark Japanese maple. Dogwoods are among the many plants I covet but can’t grow here.

  2. Marsha Young

    I just planted two dogwood shrubs that my nursery labeled “blood twig” dogwoods; but they look just like your pics, so they must be very close to the same thing. We also fight the deer here, but so far so good. They are a dandy little plant for several reasons.

  3. tanglycottage

    I remember being so disappointed when I planted Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ in an unfenced area and found the deer chomped it. I eventually took that one home to my own fenced garden, but it never really recovered. Beautiful photos of a beautiful shrub.

    The comment form wants me to be anonymous, and I want to be Tangly Cottage!

  4. Kathryn

    I haven’t cut my Arctic Fire back yet (it’s been 2 years) and it’s now about 6 feet tall. It does have the striking red branches and it’s nice to see some color in the midst of all the blah (that’s a technical term, by the way). I’m glad the deer didn’t find yours this year!

  5. Christopher Bruno

    I prune mine to about 8″ to 10″ off the ground every spring and it grows like a weed. Of course, the coldest it gets here is about 28 degrees (and no deer), so that may contribute to its robustness.

    1. Kelli

      My boyfriend has Artic Fire Dogwoods in his landscaping and they are really over grown. What is the secret to keeping them from getting so big? He prunes them regularly but they just seem to over power everything else. It has come to the point that he wants to move them. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to move and transplant them successfully?

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