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Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire

There are many shrubs that will add colour through these darker winter months, including dogwoods (Cornus) which, if pruned hard in the spring, produce fantastically coloured young stems the following winter as the leaves fall. A great choice is Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' which has rich orange, red and yellow stems and forms a thick, suckering shrub. At RHS Garden Hyde Hall this cultivar can be found near the Lower Pond, producing wonderful reflections on a clear, sunny day.

Vital statistics

Common name
Common dogwood, common cornel
Height & spread
Up to 1.5m x 0.8m
Upright deciduous shrub
Tolerates a wide range of soils and locations, but prefers moist soil.
Full sun for best winter stem colour
Fully hardy to -15˚C (5F)


Cornus is a genus consisting of about 45 species of mainly deciduous shrubs and small trees, and a few woody perennials. They are found growing in grassland, thickets, woodland, rocky slopes and swamps, mainly in Northern temperate areas.

Cornus are predominantly grown for their colourful winter stems, berries and autumn leaves, their showy bracts, and their elegant habit. Some make excellent specimen trees and shrubs, but they are equally at home planted in a shrub border, waterside or woodland garden.

The fruit of some species can cause stomach upset if ingested and the leaf hairs can irritate the skin.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ is a very robust shrub which spreads by suckering to fill spaces. Its winter colour is shown to greatest effect when grown in front of a dark background, and is also effective when grown with other colourful dogwoods with contrasting stem colour.

The young stems are a brilliant orange-yellow from autumn through to spring, with red tints on the sunnier sides of the stems. As the new leaves appear, the stems turn a yellow-green, bearing bright green leaves which can turn a brilliant yellow in autumn. White flowers borne in dense flat cymes are produced in summer followed by dull blue-black fruit.

The original plant of this selection of Cornus sanguinea was discovered in a German garden by H. Venhorst in about 1980, but wasn’t named ‘Midwinter Fire’ until 1990.


Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ will grow in a wide range of soils and locations, but will give the best winter stem colour if grown in full sun. It is ideal for growing alongside a pond or stream as it prefers moister soils.

To maintain good winter stem colour, Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ should be pruned down to 2-3 buds above the base in spring. To maintain a good framework only a third of the stems should be pruned each year, and these should be the oldest stems each time.

Cornus may be affected by anthracnose.


Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ is ideal for taking hardwood cuttings from in autumn.

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