Habitat for Wildlife

Silky Dogwood Berries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Silky Dogwood Berries (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I’ve been growing native twig dogwoods for decades and they never cease to amaze me.  Though not as showy as the glowing red and yellow twigs, for growth habit and minimal care, there is no better shrub to fill in a large area effortlessly.  Grey twig dogwood, Cornus racemosa, and silky dogwood, Cornus amomum, are native to Eastern North America, where they happily thrive in marshes or wooded areas.  Because they are a suckering type of shrub, they can spread (over a decade) to form a 10′ to 15′ tall and wide mound.  They grow in sun or part shade and tolerate a great range of soils from wet to dry, making them the perfect option for a problem spot.

The white berries of Cornus racemosa in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The white berries of Cornus racemosa (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In the spring, the young dogwood branches are brownish-burgundy, while the older branches are grey.  Twig dogwoods tend to leaf out early inviting birds, bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, woodchucks, (etc.!) to promptly set up residence.  And for good reason, as cornus forms a dense, protective habitat for the fauna that can’t be found in many other native shrubs.  They flower in the early summer, abundant with lush white 1″- 2″ blossoms.  But it’s what comes next that is really breathtaking!  Oodles and oodles of berries – in luscious shades of creamy white (C. racemosa) or cobalt blue (C. amomum) – that are adored so much by the local critters you’ll be hard pressed to see them for more than a week.

Silky Dogwood in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Silky Dogwood in pasture (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Although I plant these zone hardy (4-8) shrubs along my stream and throughout my open pastures, I often envision them as a fabulous transition plant for those with property edged by forest.  Because Cornus racemosa and amomum tolerate some shade and dryer conditions, they would hold up well at the edge of the woodland, while providing seasonal interest and habitat for the native fauna.

The indigo fruit of native dogwood in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The indigo fruit of Cornus amomum (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Native grey twig and silky dogwood are available at numerous garden centers for affordable prices.  As they grow quickly, you can create some privacy or an easy care habitat within a few years.  The shrubs pictured have been planted less than ten years, some as recently as three, and they have grown to fill in large areas quite nicely.  Consider adding the native grey twig or silky dogwood to your landscape this year, and watch as nature moves in ♥

**Looking for other berry producing shrubs, try: For the Birds


  1. I’m a new reader of your site. Awesome article by the way, I shared your article with my followers 🙂

    • So glad you found me, Lucy. I’ve been writing my blog since 2012 and you’ll find many posts on native plants and shrubs that I grow to support the local fauna. Be sure to check them out, and I look forward to hearing from you again. Thank you for sharing!

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A Garden for All