Trees and Shrubs forum: Kousa Dogwood

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ncashe7
Mar 10, 2018 6:43 PM CST
I live in the Cincinnati, OH area. Considering dogwood trees in our yard. They would be on the north east side of the house. Full morning sun. Would get some wind from the west, but there are some evergreens close by that would shield some of it. Curious to here from anyone in this zone who has kousa dogwoods or flowering dogwoods. Do they do well with some, but not full protection? Also, if you have kousa dogwoods- how big have yours gotten both in height and spread? Thanks!
Name: Mark McDonough
Massachusetts (Zone 5a)
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AntMan01
Apr 2, 2018 9:01 AM CST
Having been at my current location for 30 years, I have lots of opinions on small ornamental trees, and by the word "small", I'm talking about trees are don't become huge 80' trees. When I first came to my property it was "high and dry", up on an exposed hillside, one acre of sun plus a steep lower acre of mature dry Sugar Maple woods and invasives Japanese Barberry and Buckthorn. I planted a number of trees, selecting carefully for those trees that will not outgrow their location, and will provide some shade and year round interest. Thirty years later, how successful was I with my selection, pretty good, but some mistakes were made too.

One tree I planted is Cornus kousa 'Milky Way' (note: 'Milky Way' is a "grex", in other words, not a single cultivar but a group of similar looking clones that go under a group name of Milky Way). The tree has some strong pros, but also some cons. I'm in Massachusetts near New Hampshire, USDA Zone 5, my property is exposed to strong northerly winter winds.

On the pros side:
1. strong growing tree, iron-clad hardy.
2. rich deep green foliage, good wind break and shade
3. fast grower (but I see this as a con too, see below), can grow 3'-4' per year!
4. seems drought resistant
5. showy flowers
6. bizarre red fruits, size of golf balls, can be showy & intriguing (see cons too)
7. mature bark flakes and shows orange coloration, interesting
8. autumn color is very late and can be amazing
9. tree has deep roots, not too many surface roots, so a good choice for underplanting with shade-growing plants.

On the cons side:
1. grows too fast, grows wider than tall and takes up too much space, I prune heavily every two years.
2. major limbs send up vertical sucker sprouts that need to be pruned out.
3. in years of heavy flowering, it makes masses of soft juicy fruits, a total squishy smelly mess when they drop in the autumn.

Long and short of it, I think I made a mistake with this selection, while it has many attributes, the aggressive rate of growth and mass of messy fruits are strong negatives.

I also had a popular hybrid with Cornus kousa crossed with our native Cornus florida, named 'Stellar Pink', which they say is resistant to dogwood borer and anthracnose disease, but it indeed came down with anthracnose disease, looked so horrible for years that I finally cut it down.

Hope this helps. I have photos of this tree if that would help in your selection effort.
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Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Apr 2, 2018 11:38 AM CST
@ncashe7, I live in southern Indiana, zone 6b and received a Chinese Dogwood (Cornus kousa subsp. chinensis 'Galilean') from my daugher somewhere between 7-10 years ago.

As you can see in the picture below it is leaning a little (it is leaning towards the east). Not sure if that is because we didn't get it planted correctly or if the wind blew it around while it was still very young, or if it was because my husband backed over it with his truck. He scraped the bark pretty good, but it survived the blow.

It had been getting full east exposure to sun with just a wind break from the northwest (it sits on the southeast corner of our house). With the huge maple that was just south of it gone now, it will now get full sun all the time, so I don't know how it will do this summer.

It does bloom a little later than the other dogwoods and isn't as showy, but I don't mind.

Since this tree is still fairly young, maybe about 10-12 feet tall now, I don't have to contend with a lot of the mushy fruit that Mark mentioned, but I may regret this when it becomes a large tree.

2014 picture


Fruit


Bloom
Vickie
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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Apr 2, 2018 11:50 AM CST
Native to your area, so should thrive, are gray dogwood:



Or sweet crabapple:

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