Stop! Don't Throw Away Those Decorative Holiday Twigs!

Stop! Don't Throw Away Those Decorative Holiday Twigs!

Rochelle Greayer
Jan 22, 2014
(Image credit: Deb Silver )

Let me tell you a little story about some shrubs in my garden. These shrubs are arguably the plant that I am getting the most enjoyment from at this time of year. They are my Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea), and they were free. Sort of. I did buy a bunch of red twigs a few years ago from a florist to jam into the containers by my front door... but the rest was mother nature.

After that holiday season, I got lazy and it was January (and really cold, and the twigs were frozen in place in the container I stuck them in). I really didn't have a whole lot else to put in those containers, so I left them, and much to my surprise (even though it really shouldn't have been) about half of them put on buds in the spring and started to grow leaves.

I didn't have the heart to remove these earnest little plants, and I honestly thought they wouldn't actually survive the summer because I was convinced that they didn't have enough root to survive my conscious neglect. But sure enough... despite my laziness and laissez faire attitude, they lived. After a year of working around them and moving a couple of these containers off to a place where they could be unbothered, I had full on shrubs. These guys are are now quite substantial, and I plan to cut and give some bunches of twigs to friends as Valentines gifts to pay the good plant karma forward.

My accidental experiment in rooting shrubs — with perhaps the easiest shrub to root — has me inspired to see what else I can propagate with cuttings. I've been looking for the yellow twig dogwood at the holidays ever since, but haven't found them easily — but they are nonetheless on my list to try out. I need a bit more color variety in my winter garden. Similarly, I want to give rooting a try with some of my other shrubs, like the amazing hydrangea whose variety I don't know, and the very expensive boxwoods (that I can't really afford more of).

There are some great tutorials around the web for rooting just about everything (this might be the most comprehensive guide around). But if it is dogwood you are may as well get lazy and just leave them there in the holiday containers until spring and see what happens.

Also, in case you are wondering what the red and yellow twig dogwood look like, check out this post by Deb Silver. She does amazing holiday containers in Detroit. The red sticks in the containers are red twig dogwood and the yellow sticks are (not to state the obvious) yellow twig dogwood. Even if you didn't decorate in December, there is still time to try this out — red also works for Valentines Day.

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