Gray dogwood is a very adaptable, native shrub that is excellent for naturalizing, especially in difficult sites, such as along ponds and stream banks. Although its suckering, spreading habit makes it impractical for formal plantings, it can be incorporated into the shrub border and useful as a mass planting. Creamy white clusters of flowers in May are followed by white berries in late summer that are quickly eaten by birds.
- Deciduous (foliage falls off)
- Chicago area
- North America
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Zone 8
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Dry sites
- Occasional drought
- Wet sites
- Occasional flooding
- Alkaline soil
- Clay soil
- Dry soil
- Wet soil
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Late spring
- Late summer
- Early fall
- Mid fall
- Late fall
Size and Form
10 to 15 feet high and wide; upright, thicket forming
Tree & Plant Care
An excellent plant for sceening or to use along ponds and stream banks.
Its suckering, spreading habit requires more maintenance and pruning for formal plantings.
Disease, pests and problems
No serious problems
Native geographic location and habitat
Occurs in disturbed woods, moist ground along streams, wet meadows, and prairie margins.
Attracts birds & butterflies
White berries are quickly eaten by birds
Over 98 species of birds, including flicker, tanager, woodpeckers, and catbird are attracted to this plant for its fruit and use as a shelter and a nesting site.
Bark color and texture
Younger stems have a reddish color, older stems are grayish-brown.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, opposite leaves, 2 to 4 inches long; grayish-green, elliptic to lance-shaped leaves.
Foliage turns an interesting (but not always showy) purplish red in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flat clusters of white flowers borne in terminal clusters in late spring; flowers have a slightly unpleasant smell.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Bluish-white berries ripen July through October and persist into early winter.
Attractive bright red fruit stalks persist through winter.