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.
colonizer, lover of wet soils, birds eat the fruit
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: green
- Summer: green
- Fall: red
Fall Leaf Color Quality
turns red in winter
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden soil, moist, wet, swampy, standing water
Soil pH 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.