The way to Develop and Take care of Pagoda Dogwood Timber

Cornus alternifolia

A few of the greatest issues in life are layered: ogres and onions, muffins and parfaits, complicated and well-written characters… I may go on and on.

However one plant buries all these different issues underneath its personal layers of aesthetic awesomeness: the pagoda dogwood tree.

A close up vertical image of a pagoda dogwood tree growing in the garden. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Alongside lush foliage and delightful blooms, Cornus alternifolia has tiered, starkly horizontal branching that contrasts fantastically with vertical strains within the panorama, reminiscent of adjoining tree trunks and close by buildings.

They’re not too powerful to develop, fortunately. By following a number of easy tips, anybody can kickstart the rising course of in their very own gardens.

And for those who’re right here studying this information, that “anybody” could possibly be you!

Prepared so as to add an unbelievable dogwood to your assortment? Then let’s get to it.

Try what we’ll cowl:

What Are Pagoda Dogwoods?

The pagoda dogwood – aka Cornus alternifolia – is a small deciduous tree from the dogwood or Cornaceae household.

Hardy in Zones 3 to 7, this species hails from the jap half of North America, rising in forests, alongside stream banks, and in fields as far north as Newfoundland, as far west as Minnesota and Arkansas, and as far south as Alabama and Georgia.

A close up horizontal image of a Cornus alternifolia flower pictured in light sunshine on a soft focus background.

Flaunting a flat-topped crown, this tree grows 15 to 25 ft tall and 20 to 32 ft vast at maturity, and has very distinct horizontal branching.

The branches – virtually parallel to the bottom, with loads of vertical area in between – give the tree a layered, multi-tiered look. These layers look very similar to a pagoda, therefore the title.

The species title alternifolia refers back to the alternate association of the pagoda dogwood’s leaves.

The one different Cornus with alternating leaves is C. controversa, aka the large dogwood, desk dogwood, or wedding ceremony cake tree.

A close up horizontal image of the flowers and foliage of a Cornus alternifolia tree growing in the garden.

Talking of leaves, pagoda dogwood foliage is fairly textbook for a dogwood: oval-shaped and inexperienced, with a tapered apex and opposing leaf veins that run parallel to the leaf margins.

Come fall, the foliage turns a reddish-purple hue, typically with yellow or inexperienced tints.

In contrast to flowering dogwoods and kousa dogwoods, pagoda dogwoods lack the traditional leaf bracts which resemble flowers.

As an alternative, they produce small, pale yellow, aromatic blooms that emerge in Could to June.

By late summer time, the flowers give option to fruits: blue-black drupes atop pink stalks. These fruits present sustenance to birds and different wildlife.

Cultivation and Historical past

To know the historical past of the pagoda dogwood, we should discover its “roots” inside the Cornus genus.

Cornus consists of 58 numerous tree, shrub, and rhizomatous herb species, that are distributed throughout Eurasia, North America, northern South America, and sub-Saharan jap Africa.

A close up horizontal image of a pagoda dogwood flower pictured on a soft focus background in light sunshine.

Inside the genus are 4 clades of dogwoods: the blue- or white-fruited sorts, the big-bracted ones, dwarf varieties, and cornelian cherries.

With its blue-black drupes, the pagoda dogwood is a starring member of that first clade.

As a Cornus, the pagoda dogwood produces a fine-grained and dense lumber, which is helpful in making device handles, golf membership heads, loom shuttles, and different small gadgets which require power and impression resistance.

A close up horizontal image of a flowering Cornus alternifolia growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine.

Ecologically, the tree offers cowl and meals for quite a lot of birds and herbivorous mammals.

In conventional Chinese language medication, the pagoda dogwood has been used as an analgesic, diuretic, and tonic.

And naturally, this species is usually put into use within the panorama for its engaging, horizontally-branching type.


To propagate a pagoda dogwood, it’s greatest to take action from seed, cuttings, or through transplanting… however because of its fibrous, spreading root system, it is best to solely do the latter of those when the plant may be very younger.

From Seed

To propagate seed, you’ll clearly want mentioned seeds. Fortunately, amassing them from native specimens is a reasonably simple course of.

When the fruits ripen to a blue-black hue in late August to mid-September, both hand-pick them or jostle them from the tree onto a sheet that you just’ve specified by advance.

Use your fingers – or a blender, within the case of huge batches – to take away the pulp from the seeds. The seeds are powerful and hardened pits, so don’t fear about damaging them.

A close up horizontal image of the dark purple berries of a pagoda dogwood pictured on a soft focus background.

Place your pagoda puree in a big container of water to separate the pulp and skins from the seeds.

Any non-viable seeds will float together with the waste, whereas the viable ones will sink to the underside. Hold the viable seeds and discard the remaining.

With a purpose to preserve viability, the seeds shouldn’t be allowed to dry out previous to planting. You’ll be able to both plant them instantly that fall, or stratify them indoors till the next spring.

For the latter, put the seeds in a moist, 50:50 mixture of sphagnum peat moss and perlite, and maintain them refrigerated till spring.

Planting time? Sow the seeds a half-inch deep in fertile, well-draining, and partially-shaded soil outdoor.

House the seeds as far aside as you count on them to unfold at maturity, so about 20 to 32 ft aside, relying on the variability.

A close up horizontal image of the fall foliage of a pagoda dogwood pictured on a soft focus background.

Upon sowing, water them in, and maintain the seeds moist as they germinate and sprout.

For many seeds, this’ll take a number of months, however some would possibly take two years or extra to germinate. Be diligent and keep affected person!

From Cuttings

Cuttings extra your velocity?

Come summer time, use a sterile blade to take four-inch lengths from the terminal ends of semi-hardwood shoots. Be certain that every chopping has a few nodes and some leaves.

Defoliate the underside half of every chopping earlier than dipping them right into a rooting hormone.

For such a product, Bontone II IBA rooting powder from Bonide is the right selection. It’s out there at Arbico Organics.

A close up of a bottle of Bonide Bontone II Rooting Powder isolated on a white background.

Bontone II Rooting Powder

Stick the hormone-dipped ends of your cuttings right into a seed-starting tray crammed with a 50:50 mixture of sphagnum peat moss and perlite.

Hold the cuttings a pair inches aside, moisten the medium, and maintain the tray close to a sunny window.

Hold the medium moist whereas roots type. In six to eight weeks, examine the cuttings for root growth by giving them a tug.

If they’ve robust roots, repot every chopping into its personal four-inch container, crammed with the same medium. Of their new containers, proceed to offer solar publicity indoors and maintain the media moist.

A close up horizontal image of red fall Cornus alternifolia foliage covered in a light frost.

Come spring, rooted cuttings are prepared to begin hardening off. Transfer them outdoors and expose them to full or partial solar for 30 to 60 minutes earlier than bringing them again inside.

Every day to observe, add an extra 30 to 60 minutes till the cuttings can deal with a full day’s publicity, after which they’ll be prepared for transplanting into the backyard!

By way of Transplanting

As acknowledged earlier, transplanting is just really useful for propagules or younger vegetation, because the fibrous root system of a giant pagoda dogwood is usually a actual ache to transplant.

Dig the transplant holes concerning the depth of and a bit wider than the basis methods.

Transplants that come potted in soil must be gingerly faraway from their containers, then gently positioned into their holes.

If the roots are certain a bit, slice an “X” into the underside of the compacted root mass with a pointy and sterile blade.

For naked root transplants, construct up a mound of soil within the gap, decrease the transplant into the outlet, after which unfold the roots out over the soil mound.

Backfill with soil, tamp all it down, and repeat as wanted. Water within the transplants.

Add two to 4 inches of mulch to the basis zone – whereas leaving the basis flare uncovered – and maintain the basis zone moist because the transplants develop and develop into established.

The way to Develop

You’ll be able to’t have an architectural pagoda with out a plan, and the identical goes for a pagoda dogwood.

Comply with the suggestions beneath and your pagoda dogwood bushes will develop and look their greatest.

Local weather and Publicity Wants

In the beginning, you’ll need to plant these bushes inside USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 7 to make sure their survival.

A close up horizontal image of the flowers of a pagoda dogwood tree pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

Since pagoda dogwoods are usually understory bushes, putting them in wind-protected websites can assist them keep away from harm.

Windbreaks reminiscent of close by constructions or strains of coniferous evergreens would work completely for this goal.

Mild-wise, partial shade is greatest. Full solar works in cooler climates. In any other case, you’ll actually need to carry on high of your irrigation.

Soil Wants

Plant in well-draining soil to make sure that the plant’s root zone isn’t waterlogged. Oversaturated soils can simply result in root rot.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage of Cornus alternifolia covered in droplets of water.

An acidic soil pH of 5.5 to six.5 can be advisable.

Irrigation and Fertilization Wants

A pagoda dogwood’s soil must be saved moist for optimum development. This implies watering every time the highest inch or two of the soil feels dry to the contact.

A close up horizontal image of a pagoda dogwood shrub growing in a garden border next to a walkway.

A naturally moist and well-draining space is an excellent higher spot, and one that may spare you some additional irrigation efforts.

Fertile soil can be ideally suited, so make sure you work a pair inches of humus into the basis zone every spring. Compost, well-rotted manure, and even inexperienced manures (i.e. cowl crops) are all unbelievable choices.

Rising Ideas

  • Partial shade is good, however full solar works as effectively.
  • Present well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to six.5.
  • Hold the soil moist by watering every time the highest one to 2 inches of soil really feel dry.

Pruning and Upkeep

A devoted session of pruning must be carried out in early spring, earlier than the primary flush of recent development.

Your aim with shaping a pagoda dogwood is to intensify its layered and tiered aesthetic, so take away any branches that time sharply downward or upward to emphasise the parallel branching.

A close up horizontal image of a pagoda dogwood tree growing in the landscape pictured on a blue sky background.

Any diseased, broken, or lifeless branches could be pruned everytime you occur to note them. No matter when and the way you prune, use sterilized instruments!

Moreover, it is best to preserve the layer of mulch you established earlier. A pagoda dogwood’s root system is shallow, and these bushes can simply lose water in heat, sunny, and windy climates.

Together with moisture retention, mulch aids in weed suppression and sustaining cool soil temperatures, so mulch up!

Should you so need, rake up any dropped leaves in autumn.

A woodland planting appears to be like good with some close by fallen foliage, whereas a pagoda dogwood that sits in leafless turf appears to be like fairly fly… and in both case, eradicating leaf detritus can assist to forestall pest and illness points.

In chilly winters, ice harm is usually a downside. If the load of the ice partially breaks off a department, the harm must be pruned away as soon as the ice melts in spring. Fallen branches must be tossed onto the comb pile or disposed of.

Cultivars to Choose

To purchase a pagoda dogwood, it is best to positively try your native plant nurseries or on-line plant outlets.

A close up square image of the foliage and berries of a pagoda dogwood pictured on a soft focus background.

Pagoda Dogwood

Should you want ready-to-transplant specimens from a good vendor, lo and behold these dangerous boys from Nature Hills Nursery.

However I’d be remiss if I failed to supply alternate sorts of the alternate-leaf dogwood, so listed below are 4 unbelievable cultivars to select from!


For a shrubby model of the pagoda dogwood with white-variegated foliage, look no additional than ‘Argenta.’

A close up horizontal image of the variegated foliage of Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' growing in the garden.
Photograph through Alamy.

Measuring 10 to fifteen ft tall and 12 to twenty ft vast, ‘Argenta’ matches the place an ordinary C. alternifolia gained’t, and does so in fashion.


Not sufficiently small for you? Behold ‘Bachone’ aka Gold Bullion. It’s eight to 10 ft tall and vast, with golden foliage that flaunts specks of inexperienced, and flashes of pink alongside the yellow in fall.

As an additional advantage, white-topped flower cymes break up what some might think about to be “an excessive amount of” yellow. As if such a factor exists.

Black Stem

You could be curious to know what’s so particular about ‘Black Stem.’

Nicely, it’s proper there within the title! At a top of 25 ft, ‘Black Stem’ stands tall with darkish stems, which might look menacing through the leafless winter months.

For the emo gardener, ‘Black Stem’ is the right planting.

W. Stackman

For these in search of top-tier branching and foliage, ‘W. Stackman’ (aka Golden Shadows) is stacked.

With a top and unfold of 10 to 12 ft, ‘W. Stackman’ has leaves that emerge in pink come spring, and go on to flaunt a light-weight inexperienced to yellow variegation on the margins.

The branches are starkly horizontal, so its layered type is kind of emphasised.

Managing Pests and Illness

Happily, this plant is deer-resistant. Sadly, that’s the place a pagoda dogwood’s resistance just about ends. Listed here are a number of pests and ailments that may trigger issues.


Creepy-crawlies are annoying sufficient on their very own, however if you additionally think about their capability for vectoring pathogens? It’s all of the extra cause to have stable pest management methods in place.

Dogwood Borer

After rising from eggs laid by their wasp-like clearwing moth dad and mom, Synanthedon scitula larvae are poised to strike.

And strike they do: the larvae begin consuming the interior bark and cambium, which might result in untimely leaf drop, kill particular person branches, and reduce general plant vigor.

In time, the feeding harm can kill younger bushes.

Together with correct cultivation from the get-go, watch out to keep away from pointless harm to the tree, since eggs are sometimes laid in wound openings.

Making use of permethrin in early Could, with repeat purposes each three weeks till autumn, will assist to handle these pests.

Is your tree too far gone to save lots of? Then eradicating and disposing of it’s your solely remaining choice.

Leaf Miner

Leaf miners are the larval stage of quite a lot of sawflies, wasps, and beetles, identified to reside inside and devour plant foliage as they mature.

As they feed, they depart behind whitish tunnels that may mix to type bigger blotches, which reduces photosynthesis and aesthetics.

Any infested plant leaves must be eliminated ASAP. Since leaf miners can infest close by weeds as effectively, controlling and eradicating them will depart your tree much less susceptible.

Close by lure crops reminiscent of columbine can assist lure leaf miners away out of your pagoda dogwoods.

Diglyphus isaea is a wasp parasite of leaf miners that may be efficient in administration when launched early within the season.

A close up of a leaf miner parasite pictured on a white background.

Leaf Miner Parasite

They are often bought in massive numbers from Arbico Organics.

Sprays of spinosad on plant surfaces will successfully poison and kill any larvae that feed on them inside a day or two.

Making use of three to 4 sprays, unfold equally all through the rising season, is a stable technique.

A close up of a bottle of Bonide Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew isolated on a white background.

Bonide Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew

Spinosad is out there as a focus or in ready-to-spray bottles from Arbico Organics.

Study extra about easy methods to handle leaf miners in our information.


These small, round-bodied pests suck the phloem from infested plant tissues, which might result in chlorosis, lowered vigor, and an ugly look.

Moreover, they secrete honeydew of their wake, which might result in the event of black sooty mildew.

Branches with massive infestations could be eliminated. Direct purposes of insecticidal cleaning soap or horticultural oil are additionally efficient for management.


Many ailments could be prevented with sanitary gardening practices. Sterilizing your instruments, utilizing clear soils and pathogen-free vegetation – each good behavior helps.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Brought on by Discula destructiva, this fungal illness additionally goes by the title discula anthracnose. If this illness is new to you, simply know that the species title is kind of on level.

Preliminary signs manifest as small, tan leaf spots, which frequently turn into bigger blotches with purple to brown margins because the illness progresses. Drooping and blighted leaves also can end result.

A close up horizontal image of the symptoms of leaf spot anthracnose on a dogwood tree.
Photograph through Alamy.

The illness works its method up the stems, branches, and trunk, leaving cankers in its wake.

The girdling and loss of life of contaminated tissues may result, and all of this may culminate in plant loss of life over time.

Any cankered or lifeless branches must be pruned, and close by leaf detritus must be raked up and disposed of.

Fortunately, the branching behavior of this plant offers enough airflow, so no extra pruning is required in that regard.

When sprayed with fungicides in early spring, new development stands a larger probability of avoiding an infection.

Take away and eliminate any contaminated bushes which can be past saving.

Fungal Leaf Spot

Usually occurring in moist summer time circumstances, fungal leaf spots in pagoda dogwoods are primarily brought on by species of Septoria and Cercospora cornicola fungi.

Each forms of pathogen trigger small, irregularly-shaped spots, that are bordered by leaf veins. Septoria spots are darkish brown, whereas Cercospora spots are extra of a tannish-brown hue.

Fungal leaf spot isn’t deadly, nevertheless it gained’t depart a tree trying its greatest.

Raking up and disposing of fallen leaves assist to forestall the overwintering and subsequent unfold of the fungi, whereas purposes of fungicides are usually wanted to manage extreme infections.

Golden Canker

Brought on by the fungus Cryptodiaporthe corni, golden canker might infect pagoda dogwoods in quite a lot of circumstances year-round.

It’s a illness that completely infects alternate leafed dogwoods – an honor that I’m positive the tree doesn’t respect.

There are a number of unknowns concerning the illness. First, it’s not fairly clear precisely how the pathogen infects the tree, although entry through wounds and pure openings is the main principle.

Moreover, the fungus can truly reside inside the plant with out doing harm, so the precise the explanation why the pathogen makes the swap from benign to malignant are nonetheless unclear.

Contaminated bark turns a vivid yellow to tan shade, whereas small raised orange bumps develop on the bark’s floor.

Cankers first seem on the department ideas and progress downward because the an infection spreads to bigger stems and branches.

Contaminated branches might fail to leaf out come spring, whereas canker-girdled branches can wilt and die.

The one identified efficient method of managing golden canker is to prune diseased branches.

Remember to make your cuts inside a centimeter above a wholesome node that’s a minimum of two nodes beneath any contaminated bark.

To scale back the quantity of spores produced inside the cover, the perfect time to prune contaminated branches is throughout dormancy in subfreezing temperatures. Upon getting your pruned-away branches, burn or bury them.

Finest Makes use of

When you think about the attractive tiered branching of a pagoda dogwood, it positively qualifies to be used as a specimen in your house panorama.

A close up vertical image of a pagoda dogwood tree growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine.

Moreover, you possibly can place these bushes in groupings or use them as a border alongside the sting of your property.

As an understory forest tree, the pagoda dogwood appears to be like beautiful in woodland gardens. Because it attracts a plethora of fauna, you’ll actually encourage species variety within the ecosystem!

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Kind: Deciduous tree Flower/Foliage Coloration: Yellowish-white/inexperienced
Native to: Jap North America Upkeep: Low
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 3-7 Tolerance: Deer, lean soil, juglone
Bloom Time: Could to June Soil Kind: Moist, fertile
Publicity: Full solar to partial shade Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Time to Maturity: 2-6 years Soil Drainage: Nicely-draining
Spacing: 20-32 ft Attracts: Birds, butterflies, mammals
Planting Depth: 1/2 inch (seeds), depth of root system (transplants) Makes use of: Grouping, shrub border, specimen, woodland backyard
Top: 15-25 ft Order: Cornales
Unfold: 20-32 ft Household: Cornaceae
Water Wants: Average Genus: Cornus
Frequent Pests and Illnesses: Dogwood borer, leaf miner, scale; dogwood anthracnose, fungal leaf spot, golden canker Species: Alternifolia

Alternate Leaves for an Alternate Look

Should you’re concerned with “branching out” with layered branching, it is best to actually give the pagoda dogwood a go.

It’ll actually draw the attention of onlookers, and who is aware of? It might develop into your new go-to suggestion for people trying so as to add some pizzazz to their panorama.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage and flowers of a pagoda dogwood tree growing in the garden.

Now that you’ve the lowdown on the pagoda dogwood, go forth and develop! Unfold your wings and fly! Different enthusiastic encouragements!

Have remarks, questions, and/or issues to share? Put ’em within the feedback part beneath!

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