© RHS/Clive Nichols


Winter stem colour dogwood

Botanical name: Cornus

Some dogwoods have colourful young stems and can be pruned annually (‘coppiced’) to make the most of this feature. They are regularly planted in winter gardens en-masse alongside early bulbs to create a stunning display. Excellent for adding height and colour to winter containers and for brightening up floral displays.


Once the leaves have fallen in autumn, their true glory is the bright red, orange, yellow or acid green stems. These are often cut to the ground in spring, leaving just small woody stumps. Then, as the season progresses,  new whippy growth is sent skywards creating a dense thicket of stems and leaves, reaching a height of around 1.2m (4ft). Unpruned, stems are topped off with white, flat flower plates in early summer.


These dogwoods can grow in any soil, but preferably reliably moist to promote growth. The stems colour best in full sun.


They will not grow well in extremely dry soil or in deep shade.

Did you know?

To get the best winter stem colour, you’ll need to cut off all of the stems (coppice) annually in early spring, about 5cm (2in) above ground level. Over time the base will form a permanent low framework known as a stool.

Growing guide

Cornus we recommend for stem colour

Useful advice

Plants for winter interest

Plants for winter interest

Wildlife: helping through winter

Wildlife: helping through winter

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