Irish Setter™ Dogwood

Cornus racemosa x amomum ‘J.N. Red Stem’

Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Irish Setter™ Dogwood was selected from local ecotype seedlings growing at Johnson’s Nursery. Irish Setter™ Dogwood has superior resistance to septoria leaf spot, which is very common on this species. This cultivar has a beautiful maroon fall color lasting twice as long as its parents- up to 4 weeks! In winter, the wood from the previous growing season retains a showy, bright red color. Irish Setter™ suckers at a slower rate than the species.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: Regional Ecotype Nativar
Mature Height: 8-12 feet
Mature Spread: 8-12 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate
Growth Form: Suckering shrub, Upright
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Tolerant of many soils
Flower: White clusters, 2 inches across
Bloom Period: May-June
Foliage: Glossy Green
Fall Color: Maroon
Fruit Notes: Drupe, white berries on red pedicel

Downloadable Content

irish setter dogwood cornus racemosa amomum jn red stem info flyer

Suggested Uses:

As Irish Setter™ Dogwood has a larger mature size, it should be sited appropriately. This plant excels as a shrub border or large mass planting, and can even be used as a large-statue specimen shrub. The rooting habit of Irish Setter™ Dogwood also makes it well-suited to naturalizing sites and soil stabilization. Close up, the shrub is exceptionally beautiful after birds have eaten its berries, as the red pedicels contrast against the glossy green foliage.

Wildlife Value:

Irish Setter™ Dogwood is a great source of food for many animals. In spring, the flowers are abuzz with butterflies and bees seeking nectar. It is used by the Spring Azure butterfly as a larval host. In midsummer, the white berries ripen atop red pedicels and attract a number of bird species. Keep an eye out for Cardinals, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Eastern Bluebird.

Maintenance Tips:

Once Irish Setter™ Dogwood has established in the landscape, you can use Thinning Cuts to keep growth dense and healthy. If the shrub has been neglected and this process is difficult, heavy Rejuvenation Pruning can encourage a flush of new, more manageable growth. However, rejuvenation pruning will also increase the amount of suckering when compared to thinning cuts.

If deer browse is heavy, you may need to use a repellent like Bobbex to protect the shrub during the fall and winter.


While most dogwoods have some susceptibility to Septoria Leaf Spot, Irish Setter™ Dogwood is resistant to the disease. If any leaf spot is observed, it may be the result of a cultural practice like overhead irrigation. Keeping the foliage dry (except during normal rainfall events) will mitigate this issue.

Twig dieback and canker occur on older, more mature stems of Dogwood. This is usually a good sign that the plant needs Thinning Cuts. Younger twigs are not susceptible to canker.

Leaf Lore:

Irish Setter™ Dogwood was selected by Mike Yanny in the late 1990’s at Johnson’s Nursery for its lustrous stems that held color through the winter. Young stems will have a reddish-orange color similar to Redosier Dogwood. This plant looks most like Gray Dogwood, but is believed to be a hybrid with Silky Dogwood. Typical native dogwood shrubs are susceptible to Septoria Leaf Spot, which will defoliate the plant mid-summer if left untreated. Irish Setter™ is resistant, and even withstands some overhead irrigation. In fall, the glossy green foliage turns a rich maroon of Irish Setter™ Dogwood lasts up to 4 week, beautiful when used in mass plantings.

Companion Plants:

Irish Setter™ does well in mass plantings, but can also be paired with other large-stature shrubs when used for screening. Consider multistem J.N. Strain Musclewood, Eastern Redbud, or Staghorn Sumac.

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