The view into your garden can be pretty dull and dreary come wintertime.
Fortunately, there are some plants that come into their own in winter, and the Yellow Twig dogwood takes the crown with its bare stems of golden-yellow that pretty much glow in the winter sun!
These shrubs can spread fairly tall and wide, so how quickly can you expect one to grow in your landscape?
Yellow Twig dogwoods grow at a medium rate, achieving roughly 1 foot or so every growing season. This shrub grows to a maximum height and spread of around 6 to 9 feet, so regular pruning won’t be necessary other than to clear the thicket of diseased or broken stems and to stimulate new growth.
This delightful shrub injects beauty into all four seasons with its changing foliage colors and contrasting flowers, followed by the pièce de résistance when the last leaves fall — those vibrant yellow stems.
Keep reading to learn more about these glorious seasonal changes plus tips on how to grow and care for the distinctive Yellow Twig dogwood.
Take a closer look at even more Dogwood shrubs with my article, “The 16 Best Dogwood Shrub Varieties.”
Yellow Twig Dogwood
Also known as Golden Twig dogwood, this yellow dogwood cultivar is a natural variation of the Red Twig dogwood.
The German botanist Franz Ludwig Späth collected Yellow Twig dogwoods in the late 19th and early 20th century and introduced them to his nursery in Berlin, which still exists as an arboretum to this day.
Let’s find out a little more about this golden-yellow shrub, its tolerance, and seasonal changes.
|Botanical name||Cornus servicea ‘Flamiramea’|
|Mature height||6 to 8 feet|
|Mature width||6 to 9 feet|
|Growth rate||Moderate, about a foot each year|
|Light preferences||Partial to full sun (2-6 hours)|
|Ideal soil||Moist, well-draining (clay, sand & loam enriched with organic matter)|
|Watering needs||Weekly with deep watering during droughts|
|Bloom time||April to June|
|Bloom color & fragrance||Creamy-white, subtly sweet like honeysuckle|
|Fall foliage||Pale yellow to reddish-orange|
Yellow Twig dogwood is an upright, medium-sized shrub with a lush dense habit, deep-green leaves, flat white flower clusters, and greenish-yellow stems.
Small white berries also appear in summer, and the stems become a more pronounced yellow during winter.
Around late spring, this shrub sends out crispy green leaves accented with clusters of small white flowers. By summer, the foliage takes on a darker green hue, and white pea-sized berries appear.
Throughout the growing season, the bark is mostly a light green to yellowish color before taking on a lemon-yellow, almost golden tone throughout late fall and winter.
Shortly before this, the dark-green leaves change to a complimentary pale yellow to reddish-orange while the berries ripen to blue.
Growth Rate & Mature Size
Yellow Twig dogwood has a moderate growth rate, adding around a foot or so each growing season.
It can reach a mature height of 8 feet with a spread of 9 feet, but most shrubs will grow to 6 feet tall and wide.
These dogwood blossoms are creamy-white and typically begin blooming in mid-late April and last on the shrub until June.
The flowers have a subtle fragrance akin to sweet honeysuckle and similar to that of Red Twig dogwood.
Fall Foliage & Winter Appeal
The once dark-green summer foliage takes on gorgeous pale-yellow tones or fiery reddish-orange colors, which lend a lot of beauty in the darkening fall days.
This is followed by brighter yellow stems that appear almost golden by winter, creating a striking pop of color in the gray wintry landscape.
Yellow Twig dogwood is tolerant to drought, adapting equally well to both normal and wet soil conditions.
It’s also very winter hardy down to Zone 3 but will suffer heat stress in especially hot and humid climates.
If planting in areas south of its highest Grow Zones, take precautions in summer, such as mulching and adding a shade cloth, to prevent stress and the disease risk it brings.
Yellow Twig Dogwood Growing Conditions
Yellow Twig dogwood is pretty laidback and tolerant of various conditions, but like any plant, it still has its limits.
To get the most out of this four-season shrub, be sure to plant it within its climate sweet spot, and do your best to ensure that sun and soil conditions are just right.
These shrubs fare best in USDA Hardiness Zones 3a through to 8b but can struggle in particularly severe summer temperatures in Zones 7 and beyond.
Your Yellow Twig dogwood will be content in an area of partial to full sun, so either 6 hours of filtered sunlight a day or direct sunlight for around 2-4 hours.
Though not necessary for their health, a full sun position will see the stems develop that beautiful golden color come wintertime!
Well-draining soil types that won’t dry out too easily are ideal for the evenly moist conditions these shrubs prefer.
North Carolina State University advises a soil mix of loam, clay, and sand enriched with a little organic matter such as compost.
Shallow, rocky soil amended with moisture-retaining organic material is also a good choice.
As for pH, Yellow Twig dogwood will cope well in neutral (6.0-8.0 pH) to slightly acidic soils (5.5-6.5 pH), so have your soil tested, and amend it as needed.
Yellow Twig Dogwood Maintenance and Care
Now that you know how to keep your Yellow Twig dogwood happy, let’s look at how to maintain this level of care in the long term.
Not sure how much water or fertilizer is needed or how and when to prune this shrub? We’ve got you covered.
Water your shrub weekly throughout its first growing season, providing a thorough soak during particularly hot spells.
Once established, watering can be less frequent, but ensure the soil stays moist during low rainfall periods.
You can check if your shrub needs a drink by placing your finger halfway down into the soil — if it’s moist, wait a few days before checking again.
To help it through heatwaves and extended drought, consider applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the roots to reduce water evaporation and keep moisture locked in.
Yellow Twig dogwoods aren’t big feeders, but you can use a balanced slow-release fertilizer once yearly in spring. I’ve found that this one works very well.
Natural organic options, like compost, can work well too, providing the same slow release of nutrients as granular fertilizer.
Its moderate growth rate means this shrub won’t be a nuisance if left to spread naturally.
However, you will see a stronger golden hue on the younger stems, so for maximum winter appeal, it’s a good idea to prune back about a fifth of the stems each spring or in early fall to encourage new growth.
Look out for diseased or broken stems inside the thicket throughout the year, and always use sharp and sanitized heavy-duty pruning shears (or pruning saws for thicker woody growth) for clean results.
Pests & Diseases
Yellow Twig dogwood isn’t troubled by many pests, but the dogwood sawfly can cause issues if left untreated as these wasps can completely strip and skeletonize the leaves.
Sawfly infestations can be treated with pesticide, or you can remove the larvae by hand (larvae are caterpillar-like with white, black, and brown or striped markings).
These hardy shrubs aren’t especially susceptible to disease, but in excessively hot and humid climates with poor airflow around them, Yellow Twig dogwoods can be vulnerable to cankers and powdery mildew, so be sure to space shrubs at least 6 feet apart for decent circulation.
Landscape Uses & Wildlife Value
These dense shrubs make excellent border plants and can double as privacy screens. Whether planted individually as an accent plant or in clusters, the color-pop factor will be strong in the dreary winter landscape!
Due to their wide-spreading roots, Yellow Twig dogwoods are also great in areas experiencing soil erosion, so banks and slopes are great spots for them too.
The berries and sweetly fragrant flowers will attract plenty of wildlife including beneficial bees, butterflies, large silk moths, and various bird species.
To assist with soil erosion, Yellow Twig dogwoods are great when paired with hostas, hydrangeas, and viburnum on a bank.
They’ll also look great when teamed up with colorful flowering plants and other shrubs with winter appeal such as:
- Red Twig dogwood
- Bluestar juniper
- Winter heath
- Witch hazel
- Ghost bramble
Where To Buy
You may find Yellow Twig dogwoods at your local garden center, but be warned that cheaper seedlings may not be the exact variety and will therefore not display the true golden-yellow color in their stems.
Many trusted online nurseries take stem cuttings from the genuine ‘Flamiramea’ cultivar. We recommend the following places:
In summary, the Yellow Twig dogwood is a special cultivar of the Red Twig dogwood species and stuns with dramatic fall foliage and bright yellow to almost golden stems that seem to gleam in the winter sun.
These colorful shrubs don’t ask for much to keep them happy, but moist, well-draining soil is a must, and plenty of direct daily sunlight will help to encourage strong, vigorous growth (and make their yellow stems sing!).
Are you still undecided on which Dogwood shrub is the perfect fit for you? Expand your options by exploring these popular varieties as well.