Donna’s Plant of the Month – Kousa Dogwood

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The kousa dogwood has been around for quite a while but most folks don’t recognize it. It looks a lot like the regular dogwood but there are many differences, once you start to take notice.

It is about the same size as our native dogwood, Cornus florida but it flowers much later, after the leaves have emerged. Around Burke County they start to show color in mid-May which is long after the other dogwoods have bloomed. The flowers are a creamy white and they lay flat against the foliage. The growth is much denser than the native dogwood and the kousa is also resistant to dogwood anthracnose, a common dogwood disease.

kousa dogwood blooms

Kousa Blooms

Kousa dogwood has a smooth, peeling bark, which gives good winter interest with a magnificent red fall color. It can withstand the nibbling of deer and embraces a sunny location as well as a partially shady area. Good drainage and a slightly acid soil are a must.

The large fruit is striking and is a bright reddish-orange color. Although the fruit is edible, don’t make plans for dogwood jam, because it is a favorite of birds and they will get to it long before you have the chance!

kousa dogwood fruit

Kousa fruit

There are many cultivars available and also some pink and weeping choices. There are also some dwarf selections.

There you have it: Kousa Dogwood – a new take on an old favorite that has all of the great characteristics that we want to see in our landscapes.

Some cultivars to look for:

‘Gold Star’-yellow stripe on leaf


‘Stellar Pink’-pink

‘Moonbeam’-7 inch flowers