Monday, February 8, 2016

Class of 2016 -- Cornus amomum, silky dogwood

Cornus amomum, silky dogwood, photo via Mid-Atlantic Regional Seedbank

Why I'm growing Cornus amomum in my garden...

1) It is native to Tennessee and throughout much of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and New England.

2) It has a reputation of being a tough and adaptable plant, capable of tolerating wet clay soils. Some sources also say it has good drought tolerance.

3) The Pollinator Partnership says that Cornus amomum flowers attract bees and butterflies.

4) A University of Rhode Island fact sheet says that silky dogwood berries are eaten by many migratory songbirds.

5) It has red stems that provide winter interest.

6) I've heard it can be propagated very easily using a live staking method. So if it grows well here, it's good to know I may be able to take cuttings and get some free plants.

PS - When most gardeners think of dogwoods, they probably think of flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, but that plant has a reputation for needing or at least preferring moist, rich, acidic, woodland conditions. If I had a woodland, I'd certainly try planting some flowering dogwoods, but since my garden is mostly sunny and filled with compacted clay soil, I don't think Cornus florida would thrive here. In fact, I tried growing one a couple of years back and it really struggled even in one of the shadiest spots I could provide. Cornus amomum sounds like a much tougher and more forgiving member of the genus. We shall see...

Do you grow silky dogwood? If so, what has been your experience with this plant?