The cornel is a widespread shrub, rather rarely a tree, that is highly valued by home gardeners for a wealth of benefits. Already in early spring, usually before the forsythia, the numerous golden yellow flowers announce the approaching spring. They form an attractive contrast to the lush green, slightly shiny leaves that appear a little later. In autumn, the shrub delights the viewer with colorful foliage that only falls to the ground late in the year. The shiny, red cornelian cherries are ripe between the end of August and the beginning of October and taste sweet if you don’t pick them too early. With good care, the undemanding cornus can live for 100 years or more, reaching a height of around 4 meters at the age of 25.


The cornel is a pronounced heart root. This means that their root system is hemisphere-like and dominated by several woody main roots that grow almost vertically into the soil, while simultaneously radiating diagonally from numerous other rootings. The result is a special stability of the shrub. The Cornelian cherry is therefore not offered with a root ball, but as a container plant or bare-rooted, with a height of 100 cm to 150 cm being ideal at the time of purchase.

  • best planting time in autumn, because the roots have enough time in the still warm soil to grow until winter
  • Not particularly picky about site conditions
    • sunny to semi-shady
    • also thrives in a rather dry and slightly calcareous soil
    • cannot cope with waterlogging
  • Planting hole should be about twice as large as the root system
  • If this was purchased bare-root, the root shoots are shortened by a third
  • For container goods, only cut off damaged shoots

If the soil conditions at the chosen location are predominantly moist, it is advisable to spread a drainage made of small stones, crushed shards of clay or expanded clay on the loosened soil of the planting hole. When planting the shrub, the potting soil is ideally mixed with a part of well-rotted garden compost and several handfuls of horn shavings. When planting a bare-root shrub, it is repeatedly shaken vigorously so that the soil can be evenly distributed between the root system. Experienced hobby gardeners only plant the shrub as deep as it was in the nursery. This can be recognized by the brownish discoloration of the root neck. Finally, the earth is trampled down and the bush well watered. If the garden lover is aiming for a free-growing hedge with the cornel, 2 to 3 plants are needed per running meter. The immediate vicinity of birch and maple should be avoided because their dominant root formation sooner or later mercilessly suppresses the cornelian cherry.


The frugal cornel hardly needs any care:

  • fertilize with compost in spring
  • Mulch cover protects against evaporation
  • water abundantly when dry
  • Leave leaves in autumn
  • Winter protection not required
  • Cut back only if desired
  • do not use road salt in the vicinity

The robust shrub is largely resistant to diseases and pests. However, if road salt is spread near it in winter, this can lead to considerable damage to the leaves, flowers and shoots even after many years.

Note: It is often assumed that the cornelian cherry is poisonous – but it is not.

Cutting as a hedge

Since the cornel is remarkably tolerant of pruning, it has proven itself in numerous gardens and parks as a flowering hedge and as a privacy screen and windbreak. In summer, hedges also provide pleasant shade for a seat in the garden. Environmentally conscious gardeners also plant a hedge of cornus cherries with regard to their ecological value. It offers numerous animal and plant species a much-coveted place of retreat, serves as a nursery for birds and hedgehogs, squirrels and dormice as a refuge. Given the importance of a cornelian cherry hedge and the expected lifespan of up to 100 years, it is undoubtedly worth investing some time in careful planning. If the garden lover has decided on a trimmed hedge,

Cutting a free-growing hedge

A free-growing hedge of cornelian cherries must be trimmed regularly to support their flowering. At the same time, this measure has a preventive effect against aging:

  • remove dead shoots
  • shorten shoots that are too long
  • Cut off old branches at the base

Since the blossoms of the cornelian cherry develop on the old wood, i.e. the buds were created in the previous year, the pruning takes place immediately after the blossom. This gives the plant enough time to sprout again and form the buds for the next season.

Rejuvenation pruning of a free-growing hedge

If the hedge is not trimmed regularly or if it takes on too bulky a shape and begins to bare from below, a rejuvenation cut can help. In this case, all old and weak branches are cut off radically up to 20 cm from the ground. Young, strong shoots are spared from this measure because they support rapid regeneration of the bushes. The rejuvenation pruning is only carried out in winter, because even a bush as robust as the cornel cannot tolerate it if it is in the sap. In the following year, the flowering is largely absent; however, numerous new, healthy and strong shoots form. If these are thinned out in a targeted manner, the weaker branches are removed and the shoots that are too long are shortened, there is a good chance

Pruning of a cornelian cherry hedge

If it is already clear when planting the cornelian cherries that a cut hedge is to be created, the garden enthusiast draws attention to this when buying the shrubs in the tree nursery. Specially grown cornelian cherries are usually available in professionally managed tree nurseries.

Once the shrubs have been planted in the garden, they are pruned once or twice a year until they have reached their desired height. The new shoots are shortened, but not completely removed. If there are birds nesting in the hedge, no cutting is done during this period. Experienced hobby gardeners make sure that the shape of the hedge tapers towards the top. This prevents the bushes from becoming bare from below due to a lack of light. A slope of 5% to 10% is sufficient to meet these requirements. An example to clarify:

  • Hedge height: 2 m
  • Width of the hedge at the base: 1 m
  • Crown width at 5% gradient: 0.80 m

For orientation, poles are set up at the ends of the hedge, between which bright cords or wires are stretched to the right and left.

Popular breeds and varieties

The following are some of the most popular varieties of cornelian cherry:


  • classic variety with yellow flowers
  • large red fruits
  • Growth height up to 500 cm
  • Growth width up to 300 cm
  • high vitamin C content
  • Harvest possible as early as August


  • almost white fruits
  • weak variety
  • Growth height maximum 500 cm
  • Harvest in September and October

Very elegant

  • yellow-green foliage
  • yellow fruits
  • Growth height 200 cm to 300 cm
  • extremely drought resistant


  • Slavic variety
  • deep yellow flowers in March
  • medium-sized, deep red fruits
  • Harvest from October
  • Growth height up to 450 cm


  • Ukrainian variety
  • pretty tough
  • numerous yellow fruits
  • high sugar content
  • Harvest from September
  • broad, conical crown


  • many yellow flowers
  • bright red, large fruits
  • Growth height up to 700 cm
  • Growth width 400 cm to 700 cm


  • particularly large red fruits
  • Growth height up to 600 cm
  • Width 300cm to 600cm
  • bearing rich

Happy Face

leaves edged in white

  • new variety
  • large fruits with small seeds
  • Flowering time from February
  • many yellow flowers
  • Growth height up to 600 cm


  • forms the largest buds
  • many cherry-sized fruits
  • Buds are a popular addition to salads


  • short stature up to 400 cm
  • many small, bright red fruits
  • extremely decorative variety

Schönbrunner Gourmetdirndl

  • Flowering February, March and April
  • Buds can go into the pan
  • sugar-sweet fruits from August
  • ideal hedge shrub

All varieties of cornel offer the perfect branches for St. Barbara’s Day, December 4th. If they are cut and placed in a vase on this day, they will wear a beautiful yellow flower bouquet at Christmas.


The cornelian cherry can easily be propagated by cuttings. The best time to take the 20 cm long cuttings from the mother plant is during the sap dormancy from November to January. If the ground is not frozen then, the cuttings are inserted halfway into the ground. Otherwise, the separated shoot is placed vertically in a bucket full of slightly damp sand and stored in a frost-free room, such as the garage, until spring. As soon as the frost has pulled out of the ground in spring, the cutting is transferred to a propagation bed, where it will develop a strong root system over the next 2 to 3 years, before it can be planted in its final location.

An alternative to the propagation of cuttings is the method using sinkers. This has the advantage that the shoot remains connected to the mother plant for a long time and is cared for by it. For this purpose, the soil is loosened up next to the cornelian cherry bush and a channel is drawn in it. A suitable shoot is drawn into this channel, covered with earth and weighed down with stones. Alternatively, the pegs of a camping tent can be used for attachment. The upper end of the shoot still has to look out of the ground and is tied to a plant stake for an upright growth habit. To ensure that the sinker forms roots quickly, experienced hobby gardeners lightly carve it in several places with a sharp knife. Even with this method of propagation, it can take 2 years or more

The cornelian cherry is an enrichment for every garden. With its numerous yellow flowers, it brings color to the still dreary surroundings early in the year and heralds spring. As a true survivor, it can even cope with dry, lean and calcareous soils. In addition, the shrub does not make high demands on the site conditions.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *