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Sale cayenne silky dogwood red stems

Cornus amomum 'Cayenne' (silky dogwood)

Next available Monday or Tuesday

Unavailable Available Only few left Out of Stock Pre-order

Since the day I saw a fistful of red winter stems of this silky dogwood at Dr. Dirr's I had to have it.

Dr. Michael A. Dirr found Cayenne growing in a swamp in Virginia and brought twigs home to propagate. I'm sure glad he did - I've long coveted the red stems of Cornus alba and Cornus sericea and have killed my fair share of those in the heat of zone 8a (but, heaven knows, the attempts were worth the failures - I was willing to die trying and kept my fingers crossed for a mild summer).

I never knew Cornus amomum would produce the red stems! I'd seen scads of this white-flowered native dogwood on the banks of the Appalachee as I paddled by, but was clueless to the red-stemmed potential.

I'm so glad we have this plant to dress up our gardens in winter. It's a native one too! No longer do I have to keep my fingers crossed - Cayenne is heat tolerant and vigorous.

Tips for getting the most out of red winter stems:
  • More sunlight = best red coloration on the stems in winter
  • More water in spring/summer = longer growth (you could get 3’ per year) and therefore longer red stems
  • Fertilize it a little with (10-10-10) to get that extra good growth for longer red stems
  • Prune in the spring as the red stem color starts to fade and just as leafing out begins - this will cause the branches to fork into two, rather than just one, giving you a greater number of red stems
The tiny, white flowers (actually very un-dogwood-like) are in clusters called cymes, much like those of its water-side neighbor, Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis. Another plant we have that naturally grows alongside Cayenne is Fiber Optics buttonbush, but the flowers are entirely different.

The pollinated flowers form these blue fruits that the birds gobble up. The fruit color is like the blue in Blue Willow and Blue Danube China - there's a picture here to show you what I mean.

Cayenne silk dogwood is another First Editions® shrub that we proudly grow.

  • if you're looking for new options for wet soils, use Cayenne silky dogwood and enjoy the red winter stems
  • it's a heat tolerant red-stemmed dogwood
  • while other red-stemmed dogwoods, such as Cornus alba and Cornus sericea, decline in zones 8 (even in zone 8a) and warmer, this one thrives, and you'll get plenty of red stems to light up your winter
  • over time, it will start to colonize an area via underground runners - we like colonizers becuase they do the work of filling in blank spaces
colonizer, lover of wet soils, birds eat the fruit
Common Name
silky dogwood
Other Names
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
Growth Rate
Flower Color
Showy Flower?
Flower Season
Leaf Colors
  • Spring: green
  • Summer: green
  • Fall: red
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Ornamental Bark?
Bark Feature
turns red in winter
Native to USA?
Native To
Eastern US
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden soil, moist, wet, swampy, standing water
Soil pH Requirements
Light Requirements
full sun, part shade
To Make It Thrive
Silky dogwood chooses to grow in wet soils near bodies of water (rivers, swamps) when left to its own devices, in the wild. Even though it adapts to typical garden conditions, it's a good option for planting in wet soils - someplace where it will have wet feet that other plants don't like. Give it full sun for best flowering and fruiting.
Plant Patent
How do I get the most red winter stems possible?
Like other woodies with colorful bark, you get the best color on 1st and 2nd year stems - especially on the 1st year stems. First year stems are the stems that grew most recently, i.e., the summer before. Second year stems are those from two summers before - they usually color up great, but are maybe 10% less great than first year stems.

To get the most red winter stems, cut Cayenne back in summer to induce more branching and vigorous grown. Cut it back no later than August 1st so you give it plenty of time to put on a couple of feet of new growth - those are the 1st year stems you'll enjoy so much that winter.

My stems are green this summer, why?
As the nights begin to chill and the days shorten in autumn, the stems will begin to turn red. They'll stay that way through winter. As leaves begin to open, the stems will turn green again for summer. That's its yearly cycle.

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