Blue Ray™ Kousa DogwoodCornus kousa var. chinensis 'JN6' (PP# 28,936)
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Cornus kousa var. chinensis 'JN6' (PP# 28,936)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Blue Ray™ Kousa Dogwood is a unique variety, with a wonderful display of ivory-white blooms coming a month after the native flowering dogwood. These are followed by large red fruits that extend the season of interest. The leaves are unusually large, with a rich blue-green color, and glossy, making this an especially attractive plant even when not in bloom. Rich red and orange fall colors round out the year. Grow it as a lawn specimen that will reach 20 feet tall and wide. It’s ideal for semi-shaded locations, at the back of shrub beds, or along the margins of a wooded area.
Partial shade is ideal for the Blue Ray™ Kousa Dogwood, which will grow in full sun in cooler zones and damp soil. It thrives in well-drained soils, preferring rich, slightly acidic ones. Much more resistant to disease than our native trees, it’s relatively easy to grow with minimal care and attention. No pruning is required beyond removing any dead branches.
Even the most beautiful flowering trees are only in flower for a few weeks, so we should always pay attention to their appearance during the rest of the year. Attractive, clean foliage makes all the difference, which means we really like how the Blue Ray™ Kousa Dogwood looks great even when it isn’t in flower. The leaves are unusually large and they have a smooth, glossy surface with a unique bluish tone to their healthy green. Especially in a smaller garden there simply isn’t room for plants that look ‘off’ when they aren’t doing their main thing. We think this tree has such great leaves that it’s almost like the flowers are the bonus. Like all Kousa dogwoods, it has spectacular fall coloring too, turning rich and wonderful shades of red that set your landscape ablaze. Oh, yes, we really can’t forget the gorgeous display of beautiful four-petalled white flowers that make dogwoods such unique and iconic trees, and the big red fruits that the Kousa dogwood brings to the summer show. Plus, less visible, is the greatly improved resistance to disease that this type of dogwood has, versus our native variety. All in all, if you are dogwood shopping, your search is over.
The Blue Ray™ Kousa Dogwood is a deciduous flowering tree that has an enhanced growth rate, developing more quickly than almost any other variety. It won’t be long before you have a wonderful spreading tree approaching 20 feet in height, with a similar spread. So when choosing where to feature it in your garden, don’t forget to look up for overhead wires, and don’t plant closer than 10 feet from your home or your property line. This tree forms a multi-stem spreading dome, with a low central trunk quickly branching into several main stems. The rounded crown and outward-spreading branches make a beautiful profile, and even without leaves the arrangement of the winter twigs is truly beautiful. Combined with the mottled bark on older branches, that blends soft grays, tans and orange-browns in a camouflage pattern, you have a great winter feature too. The unique leaves are larger than is usual, reaching 4 inches in length and 3 inches across. They are somewhat heart-shaped, with a smooth edge and an elegant pointed tip. It is the special blue-green coloring that makes this tree so eye-catching, though, and the glossy surface, so different from the dull, ‘plain-Jane’ green of other flowering dogwoods.
While our native dogwood blooms early, in April, Kousa dogwoods bloom about 3 weeks later, usually in May. Even if you have the native tree, this one will keep you in dogwood blooms weeks after they are finished. Plus, the blooming season is long, lasting up to 6 weeks, a real bonus. The blooms begin a pale greenish-white, maturing to a beautiful ivory-white, with four petals and a span of 4 inches across – a huge and very showy bloom. Flowering on an established tree is so profuse the leaves are almost hidden, and in the Blue Ray Kousa Dogwood the leaves turn back just a little, hugging the stems, so that when in flower the blooms are more conspicuous and even more showy than normal. Following blooming, large strawberry-like fruits form, adding yet another point of beauty for this wonderful tree. You can eat them, but they don’t have much to offer, so just leave them for the birds to enjoy.
As a specimen tree, the Blue Ray Kousa Dogwood offers more than just about any other flowering tree can. Plant it on a lawn, or along the edge of wooded areas, where it will thrive. Grow it near your home to enjoy its glory, and with the knowledge that it will still look great when not in bloom.
The Blue Ray Kousa Dogwood grows across much of the country, from zone 5 into zone 8. It doesn’t do well in areas like the south-west or out on the Prairies, because long dry summers are not really suitable for it.
Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal, and in northern areas it will take full sun. Light dappled shade beneath trees is also possible, if it isn’t too dark. The ideal soil is well-drained but moist, and preferably neutral or slightly acidic. Use plenty of organic material when planting, and as annual mulch over the roots. That really makes a difference to your success with this tree.
Regular watering, especially when young, is another key to success. Moderate drought resistance is shown by well-established trees, but even they enjoy a deep summer soak. Mulch over the root system in spring and remove any dead branches at the same time. That’s it – the rewards far outweigh the work. While our native dogwoods suffer from destructive canker diseases, this Kousa dogwood is far more resistant and much easier to grow.
The Kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa var. chinensis, is, as the name suggests, the Chinese form of a tree also found growing in Japan and Korea. For gardens it is widely considered superior to our native tree, Cornus florida, chiefly for its disease resistance. It is widely produced, and back in 2011 Ray Jackson was working at his wholesale nursery in Belvidere, Tennessee. He spotted a unique-looking seedling that seemed to have sprouted up among his Kousa dogwoods. He really liked the unique glossy, bluish foliage and the great vigor of the tree, which was growing rapidly. After examining it in growth for a few years he decided to share it. In 2018 he patented it with the name of ‘JN6’ and arranged to release it with the trademark name of Blue Ray™, under the well-respected Garden Debut® brand of the Greenleaf Nursery Company.
We love the year-round beauty of this great new tree – and we know you will too. All our trees are grafted from stem pieces derived from that original unique plant, so you know you get exactly the same thing, not a cheaper seedling. Order now – good things don’t stay long around our farm.