If you grow bloodtwig dogwood and love its bright red stems in winter, here are more suggestions that produce a similar effect.
Plants Beyond Bloodtwig Dogwood That Provide Color in Winter
One such shrub is also a shrubby dogwood, Cornus sericea. Like bloodtwig dogwood above (C. sanguinea), most cultivars of C. sericea have red stems, but look for ‘Flaviramea’, a selection with greenish yellow stems, and ‘Nitida’, one with darker green stems. Both prefer full sun and damp soil, and they are hardy in Zones 2-8. They spread by root suckers; remove these if you don’t want a colony to form.
Kerria japonica (above) commonly known as Japanese rose (Zones 4–9) provides a dense screen in winter with its bright green stems that grow straight up then arch over. Grow it in shade or sun; make sure it has good drainage.
On the above-named plants, young stems are the most colorful, so remove their oldest stems every other year, in early spring, to encourage new growth.
More Colorful Choices
Golden chain tree (Laburnum ×watereri; Zones 5–7) has green bark, but it’s a little more understated than the other choices named in this article, in a dark shade of olive. It’s a nice tree in general, growing in an elegant vase shape and blooming in spring, with long clusters of yellow flowers. It likes full sun to light shade and moist soil.
Winter jasmine (above; Jasminum nudiflorum; Zones 6–10) is a scrambling shrub that can be trained as a vine. It looks wonderful spilling over a gray stone wall in winter. Its slender stems are green, and as a bonus at winter’s end they pop with bright yellow flowers. It tolerates poor, dry soil. It flowers best in full sun but will put up with some shade. Winter jasmine may root wherever its branches touch the ground. It grows fast and can become weedy, though it is not listed as invasive in any state. (Some other Jasminum species are.)
Finally, trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata) can succeed as far north as Zone 6, though it will produce fewer flowers and bitter-tasting fruit the farther north it grows. Regardless, this small citrus tree’s trunk, branches and thorns make a bright green splash in the winter landscape.
This excerpt originally appeared in Horticulture April 2011 issue. Back issues are available at GardenersHub.com. Join thousands of gardeners just like yourself and get smart gardening advice from experts delivered right to your home—Subscribe to Horticulture.