Wedding Cake Dogwood: Information For Growing A Giant Dogwood Tree

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By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

The giant dogwood has such an appealing appearance that it’s also known as wedding cake tree. This is due to its tiered branch structure and elegantly variegated white and green leaves. Wedding cake tree care for young plants should be consistent until establishment but mature variegated giant dogwood trees are quite hardy and tolerant provided they are kept moist. Read on to learn more about this interesting flowering dogwood variety.

Giant Dogwood Information

The wedding cake dogwood has the grown up moniker Cornus controversa ‘Variegata.’ This lovely tree grows up to 50 feet tall but more commonly 25 to 30 in height. It is a native of Asia, which can be planted in United States Department of Agriculture zones 5 through 8. These trees are easy to grow and susceptible to only a few pests and diseases.

The wedding cake dogwood is a fast growing tree that does well in either partial shade or full sun. The limbs are horizontal, giving the appearance of layering, but as the plant matures they tend to droop a bit. In spring, it produces a brilliant display of creamy white flowers. An interesting nugget of giant dogwood information reveals these flowers to be leaves. The flowers are actually bracts, or modified leaves, that form around the very tiny and mundane real flower. The flowers develop into bluish-black berries that are favorites of birds, squirrels and other animals.

In fall, the leaves turn a rich red and in spring the bright green tops of new leaves compliments the variegated silvery white tinged under leaves.

Growing a Giant Dogwood Tree

These trees are not found in many nurseries, but if you are lucky enough to find one, take care to situate it in a good location and provide basic wedding cake tree care as it establishes.

The best place for variegated giant dogwood trees is in slightly acidic soil where there is dappled lighting. It will also perform well in full sun situations.

You can plant it in either clay or loam but the soil should be slightly moist but not boggy. Take care to provide enough space above and on the sides for the adult height and spread of this majestic tree.

Care of the Wedding Cake Dogwood

After planting, it is a good idea to stake the young tree for straight strong growth. Provide water weekly for the first few months, and thereafter supplement moisture in very dry periods and in summer with a deep drench every couple of weeks.

This tree is resistant to many pests but does occasionally has a problem with dogwood borers and scale. It is resistant to Verticillium but may become prey to canker diseases and root rot.

Overall it is a very easy tree to care for and worth having for its many seasons of interest.

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