Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Grow dependable, delightful dogwood

By
Stephen Westcott-Gratton

The dogwood family boasts an enviable pedigree. Here are some of the best

The Cornus florida group
The C. florida group of dogwoods represents some of the most outstanding flowering trees available. At the pinnacle stands our native, spring-blooming flowering dogwood (C. florida), with the Chinese kousa dogwood (C. kousa) and another native, Pacific dogwood (C. nuttallii), running close behind. Of particular interest are the various crosses and cultivars arising from these three species, known collectively as Cornus florida Group Hybrids. These have been developed for greater hardiness, better disease resistance and larger flowers. Evergreen Chinese dogwood (C. angustata) and Himalayan evergreen dogwood (C. capitata) are also included in the C. florida group.

Cultivars:

C. Florida & cultivars
Height and Spread: 8 x 8 m
Bracts are white or shades of pink and red, and up to 15 centimetres across. Berries are deep red; fall foliage is deep red to burgundy. Zone 5

Recommended cultivars for disease resistance:
‘Comco No. 1’ a.k.a. cherokee brave
Pink bracts; mildew resistant

‘Cherokee Chief’
Deep red bracts; mildew resistant

For cold hardiness:
‘Cherokee Princess’
12-cm white bracts

‘Cloud 9’
Overlapping white bracts; good disease resistance as well

For disease resistance:
‘Comco No. 1’ a.k.a. cherokee brave Pink bracts; mildew resistant

‘Cherokee Chief’ Deep red bracts; mildew resistant

For cold hardiness:
‘Cherokee Princess’
12-cm white bracts

‘Cloud 9’
Overlapping white bracts; good disease resistance as well

Cornus florida group hybrids

The most successful crosses between C. kousa and C. florida are the results of work started by Elwin Orton at Rutgers University in New Jersey in the 1960s; seven Stellar Series hybrids have since been released. All are vigorous growers, disease resistant and hardy to –29°C. With the exception of Stellar Pink, all have white bracts. The following four are available in Canada:

C. x rutgersensis ‘Rutban’ (Aurora), ‘Rutcan’ (Constellation), ‘Rutdan’ (Celestial), ‘Rutgan’ (Stellar Pink). Zone 5

By far the most exciting development in the world of dogwoods in the past 50 years is the release of a cross between C. kousa and C. nuttallii. Also the result of Orton’s handiwork, C. ‘KN30-8’ (Venus) displays white bracts typically 12 to 15—and up to 17.5—centimetres in diameter. Venus requires the same conditions as its C. kousa parent, and grows robustly with few insect or disease problems. At 15 years of age, the original plant measured 5.5 metres tall by 7.5 metres wide. Limited availability. Zone 6

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