Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood: A Stunning Shrub for Year-Round Interest

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’) is a deciduous shrub that offers a spectacular display of color and texture throughout the seasons. Native to North America, this versatile plant is a popular choice for landscaping due to its striking red stems, attractive foliage, and adaptability to various growing conditions.

Appearance and Growth Habit

Stem Color and Texture

The most striking feature of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is its vibrant red stems, which are especially prominent in winter after the leaves have fallen. The young stems have the brightest, most intense red color, often described as “fire-engine red” or “crimson”. As the stems age, they tend to darken and become more burgundy in color.

The red color is most vivid on new growth, so regular pruning to encourage new stems will help maintain the shrub’s colorful display. The stems are smooth and glossy, adding a nice textural contrast to the plant’s overall appearance.

In addition to the red color, the stems of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood are also notable for their density and upright growth habit. The shrub tends to produce multiple stems from the base, creating a full, bushy appearance.

Leaf Characteristics

In spring and summer, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is covered in lush, dark green foliage. The leaves are oval to lance-shaped with pointed tips and have a slightly glossy texture. They are arranged oppositely along the stems and have smooth, entire margins.

The leaves are typically 2-5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, creating a dense canopy that provides excellent screening and privacy when the shrub is used as a hedge or border.

In fall, the foliage of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood turns a beautiful red-purple hue before dropping to reveal the red stems. The fall color can range from a deep burgundy to a bright, scarlet red, depending on the growing conditions and climate.

Size and Growth Rate

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is a medium-sized shrub that typically grows 6-10 feet tall and wide at maturity. However, some sources indicate that it can reach heights of up to 10 feet, especially in ideal growing conditions.

This dogwood has a medium growth rate, adding about a foot or so of new growth each year. It tends to grow more quickly when young, reaching its mature size within 5-7 years.

The shrub has a rounded, dense habit with a slightly wider spread than height. It can be pruned to maintain a more compact shape or allowed to grow naturally for a looser, more informal appearance.

Suckering Habit

One notable characteristic of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is its suckering habit. The shrub tends to produce new shoots or suckers from its base and roots, which can help it spread and form dense thickets over time.

This suckering habit can be beneficial for erosion control, as the dense network of roots helps stabilize soil and prevent washouts. It can also create a naturalistic, informal appearance in the landscape.

However, the suckering habit may require some maintenance to keep the shrub contained and prevent it from spreading too aggressively. Regular pruning and removal of suckers can help maintain the shrub’s size and shape.

Comparison to Other Dogwoods

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is a cultivar of the native species Cornus sericea (synonymous with C. stolonifera), which is commonly known as red osier dogwood. It was selected for its particularly vibrant red stem color and compact growth habit.

Compared to the straight species, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood tends to have a denser, more upright growth habit and more consistently bright red stems. It is also noted for its good resistance to leaf spot and other common dogwood diseases.

Other popular cultivars of red osier dogwood include ‘Cardinal’ (bright red stems), ‘Flaviramea’ (yellow stems), and ‘Isanti’ (compact growth habit). Each cultivar offers slightly different characteristics in terms of stem color, size, and overall appearance.

Flowers and Fruit

In late spring to early summer, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood produces small, flat-topped clusters of tiny, star-shaped white flowers. While not highly fragrant, the flowers are attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies. Following the flowers, small white berries develop in late summer. These fruits are popular with birds, providing a valuable food source and attracting feathered visitors to the garden.

Growing Conditions and Care

Sun Exposure and Shade Tolerance

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood performs best in full sun to partial shade, requiring at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and stem color. In hot climates, it can benefit from some light afternoon shade to prevent leaf scorch and maintain plant health.

While this dogwood can tolerate some shade, too much shade can result in reduced flowering, weaker stem color, and a more open growth habit. For the brightest red stems and the most compact form, plant Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood in a location that receives full sun for most of the day.

Soil Requirements and Adaptability

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is adaptable to a range of soil types but prefers consistently moist, well-drained soils. It performs best in rich, slightly acidic soils with a pH between 5.5 and 6.6.

This dogwood can tolerate heavy clay soils and occasional wet conditions, making it a good choice for low-lying areas or rain gardens. However, it does not perform well in dry or poorly-drained soils, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

To improve soil fertility and drainage, amend the planting area with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Mulching around the base of the plant with a 3-4 inch layer of organic mulch can help retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth.

Watering Requirements

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood prefers consistently moist soil and requires regular watering, especially during establishment and periods of drought. Water deeply and thoroughly, providing enough moisture to soak the root zone.

For newly planted dogwoods, water deeply once or twice a week during the first growing season to help the roots establish. Once established, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is moderately drought-tolerant but still benefits from regular watering during dry spells.

Avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely, as this can cause leaf drop and stress the plant. On the other hand, overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot, so it’s important to strike a balance and provide consistent moisture without water logging the soil.

Fertilization

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood benefits from annual fertilization to support healthy growth and vibrant foliage. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins.

Choose a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content to promote lush foliage growth and strong stem development. Follow the application rates on the product label, as over-fertilizing can lead to excessive growth and weak stems.

In addition to regular fertilization, topdressing the soil around the plant with a layer of compost or well-rotted manure in spring can provide a nutrient boost and improve soil structure.

Pruning and Maintenance

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood requires minimal pruning to maintain its shape and size. In most cases, pruning is only necessary to remove dead, damaged, or crossing branches, which can be done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

To encourage vigorous stem growth and maintain the vibrant red color, hard pruning can be performed every few years. This involves cutting back the stems to within a few inches of the ground in late winter or early spring. Hard pruning stimulates the growth of new, brightly colored stems and helps maintain a compact, dense habit.

If desired, older stems can be selectively removed each year to make room for younger, more colorful growth. This can be done by cutting out a third of the oldest stems at ground level in late winter or early spring.

Landscape Uses

The multi-season interest and versatility of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood make it a valuable addition to various landscape settings. Some common uses include:

  • Hedges and screens: Its dense, upright growth habit makes it well-suited for creating privacy or defining boundaries.
  • Mass plantings: Grouping several plants together creates a bold statement and enhances the visual impact of the red stems in winter.
  • Wetland areas and pond edges: This dogwood tolerates moist conditions and can be used in rain gardens or along water features.
  • Wildlife gardens: The flowers and berries attract pollinators and birds, making it a great choice for nature-friendly landscapes.

FAQ

What is Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood?
Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’) is a deciduous shrub native to North America, known for its vibrant red stems, attractive foliage, and adaptability to various growing conditions.

How tall and wide does Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood grow?
Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood typically grows 6-10 feet tall and wide at maturity, with a rounded, dense habit.

What is the growth rate of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood?
This dogwood has a medium growth rate, adding about a foot of new growth each year.

What are the most distinctive features of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood?
The most distinctive features of Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood are its vibrant red stems, which are especially prominent in winter after the leaves have fallen, and its lush, dark green foliage that turns red-purple in fall.

Does Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood produce flowers and fruit?
Yes, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood produces small, flat-topped clusters of tiny, star-shaped white flowers in late spring to early summer, followed by small white berries in late summer that attract birds.

What are the sun requirements for Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood?
Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood performs best in full sun to partial shade, requiring at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal stem color and density. In hot climates, some light afternoon shade is beneficial.

What type of soil does Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood prefer?
This dogwood prefers consistently moist, well-drained soils. It can tolerate a variety of soil types but does not perform well in dry or poorly-drained conditions.

Is Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood drought-tolerant?
Once established, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is moderately drought-tolerant but still benefits from regular watering during dry spells.

In which USDA hardiness zones can Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood be grown?
Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is cold-hardy in USDA zones 3-8, making it suitable for many regions.

Does Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood have any pest or disease issues?
This dogwood has no serious pest or disease issues and is deer-resistant.

How should Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood be pruned?
Pruning is generally not required but can be done in late winter or early spring to remove old, damaged, or crossing branches and maintain the desired shape. Hard pruning every few years will stimulate new growth and the production of vibrantly-colored young stems.

What are some common landscape uses for Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood?
Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is commonly used for hedges and screens, mass plantings, wetland areas and pond edges, and wildlife gardens.

How does Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood compare to other dogwood cultivars?
Compared to the straight species (Cornus sericea), Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood tends to have a denser, more upright growth habit and more consistently bright red stems. It is also noted for its good resistance to leaf spot and other common dogwood diseases.

In Conclusion

Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is a stunning, low-maintenance shrub that offers year-round beauty and versatility in the landscape. With its vibrant red stems, lush green foliage, and attractive white flowers and berries, this dogwood provides a feast for the eyes in every season. Whether used as a hedge, in mass plantings, or as a focal point, Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood is sure to add color, texture, and interest to any garden setting.

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