No garden is complete without shrubs—to provide privacy when planted as a hedge, give wildlife food and shelter, create a beautiful backdrop for smaller plants, and offer flowers, fragrance, and shade.
The underlying rosy hue of dogwood branches provides bright landscape color through even the most severe Minnesota winter. The extensive root system tolerates poorly drained soil, and can be useful for erosion control. Small white flowers appear in June, followed by white berries that many birds and other wildlife find appealing.
The newest variety, Garden Glow™, adds chartreuse foliage and a luminous glow to a shady landscape. 'Cardinal' was introduced for its vivid red winter twig color. 'Isanti' is a slower-growing selection of native dogwood. Garden Glow™ performs best in filtered sunlight or where it receives protection from the afternoon sun. 'Cardinal' and 'Isanti' grow well in full sun or partial shade.
Pagoda or alternate leaf dogwood is a Minnesota native. Creamy white blossoms on horizontal branches light up the woods in May, and lead to attractive blue fruits in the fall. Unfortunately, the trees are highly susceptible to Cryptodiaporthe canker, a problem identified more than a century ago. Trees rarely attain a trunk diameter greater than four inches before the tree succumbs. U of M researchers collected canker samples from around the state in order to isolate and culture the fungus. New seedlings, grown from seeds from hardy trees across Minnesota, are systematically infected with the cultured pathogen in the first step to develop a canker-resistant cultivar. In the process, breeders will select for improved fall color, richer and varied flower color, and larger flower size.
U of M Dogwood (Cornus) Varieties
|Image||Variety||Year||Blooms & Berries||Features||Plant Size|
|Cardinal||1986||White flowers, May to June||Youth twig growth is bright red for winter||8-10'|
|2001||Small white flowers in late spring, white berries mid-summer||Brilliant yellow-green foliage. Red stems in winter. Thrives in shade||6'|
|Isanti||1971||Small white flowers in spring||Mound shape. Fine twigs with red bark||4-5'|
Golden Glow™ is a trademark of the University of Minnesota.
The bright yellow flowers of forsythia appear before the leaves, signaling the arrival of spring. 'Northern Sun' was bred to flower in early spring despite cold temperatures. A forsythia's vigorous growth makes it suitable for screens and bank plantings. 'Northern Sun' thrives in full sun and tolerates poor soil.
U of M Forsythia (Forsythia) Variety
|Northern Sun||1982||Bright Yellow||Hardy to -30° F. Fast growing. Tolerates a wide range of soils||10'|
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
Common ninebark is a versatile deciduous flowering shrub widely used in landscaping. It gets its name from its bark, which can be peeled off in several thin layers. Native to Missouri, it prefers full to partial sun in cooler climates. Late spring to early summer blooms are white or pink and foliage is typically gold, red or purple. They are typically widely adaptable to various soil types and are easy to grow in the home garden.
The University developed Center Glow Ninebark and Fireside® Ninebark both boast stunning foliage and excellent cold-hardiness. Center Glow’s foliage is a gorgeous contrast between gold and red in the spring which morph into shades of burgundy as the season progresses. Whereas Fireside starts out a dark red-purple and transitions to deep purple in fall.
|Center Glow||2012||Late spring pinkish-white flowers||New leaves have an attractive glowing center of golden yellow, before the leaf turns entirely red. In fall the seed pods turn bright red, lasting into the winter months. Excellent for a splash of rich color that will never fade or darken.||6-8'|
|Fireside™||2018||Pinkish-white flowers in spring||Reddish new growth matures to deep red-purple foliage that holds its color reliably all summer then turns deep purple in fall. Its habit is tidier than other Physocarpus with a rounded, upright shape.||5-6'|
Fireside™ is a trademark of the University of Minnesota.
'Northern Pearls' is the only selection of pearlbush hardy for Minnesota. Its name comes from its flower buds, arrayed like pearls along a stem. In early May, each bud opens into a showy white flower, two inches across. It can be pruned to a single trunk for a small tree, or grown as a five- to eight-foot shrub.
U of M Pearlbush (Exochorda) Variety
|Northern Pearls||1995||Pearly white||Attractive flowers. Showy exfoliating bark||5-8'|
Two hardy viburnum varieties, HomeFree™️ and ‘Emerald Triumph’, have great potential as buckthorn replacements in Midwestern landscapes. Commonly known as nannyberry, the bushes feature dark green, glossy foliage and creamy white flowers in late spring. The compact shrub grows 6 to 10 feet wide and high with dense foliage, making it an ideal choice for screen hedges.
HomeFree™️ is extremely resistant to powdery mildew and will do better in shade than other varieties. Fruit turns bright red in August and changes to bluish-black by mid-autumn. Fall color may not develop completely before a hard freeze, but in the South, the foliage turns bronze to dark red.
U of M Viburnum (Viburnum) Varieties
|Emerald Triumph||1994||White, showy and nearly flat flower clusters in mid-May||Hardy to -30° F. Best in full sun to part shade and in well-drained soil||6-10'|
|HomeFree™️||2015||White, flat clusters in mid-May||Attributes like 'Emerald Triumph' but is especially resistant to powdery mildew||6-10'|
Homefree™ is a trademark of the University of Minnesota.
Did You Know?
Garden Glow™ dogwood is adaptable to a range of soil conditions and is proven cold hardy for USDA Zone 4A. It is not recommended for full or afternoon sun because the golden leaves tend to burn or bleach in high light conditions. Dappled, light shade, or full morning sun followed by afternoon shade produces the brightest, glowing, yellow-green foliage. This dogwood tolerates heavy shade, but foliage turns a darker green.