Cornus kousa, commonly called Kousa dogwood, is a small, deciduous flowering tree or multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15-30’ tall, with a vase-shaped habit in the early years but eventually maturing to a more rounded form. Bloom occurs in late spring. The showy parts of the Kousa dogwood “flower” (3-5” across) are the four narrowly pointed petal-like white bracts which surround the center cluster of insignificant, yellowish-green, true flowers. Flowers are followed by berry-like fruits (to 1” diameter) which mature to a pinkish red in summer and persist into fall. Fruits are technically edible, but are usually left for the birds. Oval, pointed leaves (to 4” long) are dark green. Mottled, exfoliating, tan and gray bark on mature trees is attractive in winter.
Excellent resistance to anthracnose. Garden Uses. A stunning small flowering tree or large shrub with excellent flowers, showy fruit, interesting summer foliage color, good fall color and some winter interest. Plant as a specimen or in small groupings on residential property around homes, near patios or in lawns. Also effective in shrub borders, woodland gardens or bird gardens. Kousa dogwoods generally have better disease resistance than flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida). Hardy in zones 5-8.
Growing Instructions for the Kousa Dogwood
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat. The seeds can be sanded with sandpaper, a nail file or an emery board. 2. Soak the seed in water for 24 hours. 3. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 10 weeks. 4. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet. 5. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 6. Water the container and leave it to drain. 7. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 8. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. 9. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.