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A few weeks ago, I bought some small plants and planted in my border. I added plenty of leaf mould and rotted manure, but since planting they have started looking a bit sad. They have lost some leaves, and the tops of the stems have gone brown. They have been kept well watered and are in partial shade. 

Any ideas on what I can do to cheer them up? I initially thought the stems had been nibbled by rabbits. Should I prune the dying bits of stems? Is there anything I can feed them with? Or do I just need to be patient and let them get going in their own time. 



I have two of these. One has never given a moment's trouble, the other is about to be put though the shredder.

I think they're a weak cultivar. beautiful if everything is right but quick to look poor. Your brown stems I know well, also very anaemic looking leaves early in the season which the good one has to some extent.

I'd give it time, don't let it dry out but don't overdo it. Don't feed an invalid. You've given it a good start.

You might as well cut off the dead bits, it will lokk better for that


Yep, I have anaemic leaves too. I think seeing the amazing looking ones in the winter walk at Harlow Carr has made me set my expectations a bit high.  How long is it likely to take to get a decent sized plant? I assumed the beautiful bright stems would be just one season's growth, before they went woody, but can't see that happening this year. 

Thanks for the advice nut. If they don't recover I might have to get a tougher cultivar.


They're not strong enough growers to cut back every year like some.

But nothing else has that stunning colour does it.

There's fine stand of them at Anglesey Abbey. Look brilliant in the sunshine.

Mine good one is about 10 foot tall, maybe 15 years inplace. never been cut, it's gone naturally into a horizontal layer look like some cornus do and I don't want to lose that

My 'midwinter fire' is about 2 years old. Looking quite sad...some dead tips of branches..tidied the whole plant up and 'talked' to it. I'm hoping this will pick up as the season goes.


Midwinter Fire breaks the mould when pruning dogwoods.  It just doesn't like being pruned.  It lacks vigour and needs just to be left to its devices removing only the dead wood. I think it might need less moisture than other dogwoods too....Just a personal comclusion about this plant. 

I bought two of these and, once I realised they don't take to heavy pruning like their alba sibirica cousins, they both settled down and have been very happy.  These days I trim them lightly and occasionally remove whole stems but never more than a third at a time.

They are so happy they have suckered so at the front I am constantly removing babies which I pot up to give away or sell at an anuual charity plant fair.  The one at the back was moved 4 years ago so I had a better view of it in winter from the sofa.   It produced 12 babies from bits of root left behind in its old site.  I replanted those in a new bed I made over on the far end of my garden.  This year I found 7 new babies in the old site and have given them all away.

Moral?  These things sucker like mad so beware and they should be sold with a warning and at very low prices.   Definitely not a premium plant that's hard to propagate.



glad it's not just mine that looks rubbish! I bought one last autumn and it's looked very poorly ever since. Many stems went black, leaves looked poorly too. I've cut off all the black stem ends, and it's finally starting to perk up a bit, but compared to the bright green/yellow dogwood i got at the same time they are like chalk and cheese.

There might be something in the not liking damp so much, maybe the wet winter had it's tole.. fingers crossed it gets established this summer.

star gaze lily

I have three, two of which are looking pretty sad at the moment.

Can anyone tell me when I can lift them and put them somewhere else in the garden to see if  they grow any better please.


I'd do it when dormant but if you think it's getting too hot and dry now it might be worth risking a move. Better than losing it.

Lily, wait until autumn now before you move them.

midwinter fire, for me, is fickle.  You cannot prune them as you do the already said, light pruning only.

i cannot grow them well at all but for a friend I have managed to get it to thrive. mainly by not fussing it too much I think

star gaze lily

Thank you Nut and Verdun. 

Don't think its too dry, so will wait till later in the year.

Thanks again.


In the end I've decided the vibrant red of alba sibirica with it's strong growth and good foliage is far more beautiful than the Midwinter form which needs coddling and is wussy about being pruned so can easily get too big.

I am now layering the sibirica to make new plants for me and a couple of friends but will continue to pot up Midwinter Fire babies for the annual charity plant sale cos people still like it.    


I just had to look up which variety  mine was and fortunately  it is Cornus Alba Sibirica. I am pleased to hear it is a good robust one. I have now found the pruning information as well.

"The varieties above should all be pruned - cut back hard - not trimmed - in early Spring rather than late winter.

I have so many newish plants I am having to make sure I know what each needs.

I bought 16 almost plug plant size ass otherwise 16 would have been expensive. Planted them 15 years ago and only pruned once when they had got very tall. I have never had a problem with them except that they layer themselves so always have plants to give away. I assume that as I can grow them easily that they love heavy and composted bark as I top up the composted bark every year. So I would say to all those having a problem to be patient. It took about 5 years for my plug plants to get to 1m tall.



Timely thread this,  I've just ordered two of them  Sounds they are not going to be successful.  Wish I'd gone for another variety now as I was hoping to keep them small.

I left all mine behind Yvie and gave my layerings of cornus alba sibirica to Marie-Christine because there's a nursery here that stocks them.  I shall be buying some for my new winter bed - much stronger in growth and fabulous bright red stems and they can take being cut back low every year to maintain size and colour.

I do like the flame effect of the Midwinter Fire but find it's a pest - either weak or too happy and suckery.


I swing between loving the colours and threatening them with the big shredder. 
This one just earned a stay of execution. The other is on death row

I planted 50 of these at 1m spacing back in April 2012. (Nursery closing down, very cheap) in very heavy clay soil which is usually saturated in the winter. They are now about 1.30m tall and wide; I have not pruned or coppiced them at all because I didn't think they were strong enough but they are now good healthy shrubs.

Side lit in a low winter sun they are spectacular for months on end. I think they are the most rewarding plants I have ever planted. Much better than some Sibirica and Scarlet Willow I also have for winter effect. And underplanting with snowdrops is the icing on the cake.


I once bought a new variety of another much heralded plant which turned out not to be as good as it it was claimed. I can't remember what it was now.

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