The White Kousa
Japanese Kousa dogwood blooms are like a starry night sky.
If you’re looking for a perfectly shaped tree with year-round interest, try planting a Kousa dogwood in your yard! Also called Japanese or Chinese dogwood, these Asian cousins of the familiar native flowering dogwood offer a unique look, and they’re resistant to many of the diseases that frequently plague flowering dogwoods.
- Spring: Kousa dogwoods bloom in the spring about a month after flowering dogwoods. The blooms last about six weeks and gradually fade to pink, giving a long season of color.
- Summer: The deep forest-green foliage and elegant arching and horizontal branches make Kousa dogwood a favorite for outdoor seating areas, large containers, and border plantings.
- Fall: Foliage turns a brilliant reddish-purple, and the branches become laden with unique red fruits. The fruits are edible, but the birds find them more palatable than we do!
- Winter: Kousa dogwoods show off their naturally pleasing shape, along with showy exfoliating bark that peels back to show rich grays and browns. They make a dramatic silhouette in the winter landscape.
The sight of a dogwood in bloom makes a nature lover out of even the most hardhearted curmudgeon. In a native flora liberally sprinkled with springtime flowering trees, the dogwood stands out as our most beloved symbol of spring. Though white is its main color, pink forms also occur.
Dogwoods do best in some shade and rich soil, but can adapt to a variety of conditions with proper care.
Planting Your Dogwood
Select an area of the garden for your pink dogwood. Unless you plan to prune the tree to limit its size, the space should be large enough to accommodate the tree's mature size: 15-to-30 feet tall and wide. Dogwoods can grow in full sun but prefer a site with dappled shade.
Amend the soil, if needed. Dogwoods need slightly acidic, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. If your soil doesn't meet these conditions, amend it with compost before planting your dogwood.
Soak your tree in a bucket of water for four hours before planting if you've purchased a bare-root dogwood. For a container-grown tree, water it thoroughly before you remove it from its container.
Dig a hole for your flowering dogwood. The planting hole should be as deep as and twice as wide as the roots of your dogwood.
Make a mound in the center of your planting hole. The mound should be tall enough so when the tree is set on it, the part of the tree where the roots join the trunk sits slightly above ground level. Spread the roots of the tree evenly over the mound and fill in the hole with the soil you dug out earlier. As you fill, press the soil lightly to firm it around the roots.
Water the tree thoroughly and place a 4-to 6-inch layer of mulch around the tree. If necessary, stake the tree to hold it straight. Over the first year, water the tree regularly and don't let the soil dry out.