Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’

variegated Tartarian dogwood

red-twig dogwood

red-stem dogwood

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Synonyms: Cornus alba ‘Argenteomarginata’

Outstanding Qualities

Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ is a work-horse shrub, giving a great deal for the little it asks in the way of care and attention. In the spring, bright gray-green leaves emerge with a wide, irregular margin of pure white. This variegation remains vibrant and does not fade during summer. In autumn the display changes to gold, apricot and rose-red. Once the leaves have dropped in late fall, its vibrant red stems are revealed, adding interest to the winter scene.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: spreading shrub

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 5 ft. 0 in. (1.52 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 2 to 8

Flower Color: cream, white

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to dappled shade; brighter red stems in more sun

Water Requirements: regular watering in well drained soil

Seasonal Interest: red stems in winter, variegated foliage in spring & summer, autumn foliage color

Wildlife Associations: bees, butterflies

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: bronze, burgundy, gold

Great Color Partners: white, dark green, variegated, red

Culture Notes
‘Elegantissima’ grows best in moist well-drained soil but it is extremely adaptable, growing in a wide range of soil types including clay, sand, or wet locations. It is vigorous in full sun or light to dappled shade, but a sunnier location will provide brighter stems in winter. To encourage bright red stems cut back a third of the oldest stems to about 6 inches tall every year, leaving the strong upright young whips.
Geek Notes
There is some debate as to whether the correct cultivar name is 'Elegantissima' or ‘Argenteomarginata’. Both are used in the trade and literature. GPP generally follows the Royal Horticulture Society's RHS Plant Finder and 'Elegantissima' is currently listed there. The species, Cornus alba, is native from Siberia to the Korean Peninsula. The common name, Tatarian dogwood comes from Tatar people of central and eastern Asia where this dogwood grows wild. Another common name, redtwig or redstem dogwood, can also apply to Cornus sericea.