Tri-Splendor Kousa DogwoodCornus kousa var. chinensis ‘Tri-Splendor’ (PP# 20,008)
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Cornus kousa var. chinensis ‘Tri-Splendor’ (PP# 20,008)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Tri-Splendor Kousa Dogwood is a unique smaller tree, growing no more than 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide, with a vigorous habit. The leaves have a broad margin that is pure white, turning to pale yellow on maturity. The green center has two-tone light and dark green patterning. Fall leaves are flushed bright pink and red. The unique flowers are white when they open, and towards their end they become variegated pale yellow and yellow-green. Flowering in May or June, blooms remain attractive for a whole month, at a time when most other trees have finished blooming. The flowers are followed by red, strawberry-like edible fruits.
Grow the Tri-Splendor Kousa Dogwood in full sun, partial shade, or the dappled shade beneath trees. It grows best in rich, moist, well-drained soils that are acidic or neutral – avoid very alkaline soils. This tree rarely suffers from the deadly anthracnose disease that has killed so many of our native flowering dogwoods, and it is generally free of pests or diseases and left alone by deer. No pruning is required, but a deep soak during dry summer weather will be appreciated. Mulch annually with rich organic materials.
When you want that extra punch in your garden, nothing beats the beauty of variegated foliage. Especially in shade it brings light and sparkle, but most variegated trees and shrubs need plenty of sun. Not so the Tri-Splendor Kousa Dogwood, which thrives in partial shade and its natural environment, the dappled shade beneath large deciduous trees. Gorgeous leaves that are green edged in white are only the beginning with this great tree, which is smaller than most other Kousa Dogwoods when mature – and so perfect for a smaller garden or limited space. The second splendor is the wonderful pink and red fall leaves, and number three is of course the unique white flowers that will make late spring in your garden so glorious. These are also variegated, especially noticeable when young, with pale green centers and yellow-white edges, becoming almost pure white when they mature. We could add a fourth splendor too – the bright red strawberry-like fruits of late summer, which are edible, and also appreciated by wild birds.
The Tri-Splendor Kousa Dogwood is a large shrub or small tree, growing between 12 and 15 feet tall, with a spread of about 10 feet. In good conditions it will be about 10 feet tall in 5 years, growing more vigorously than many other varieties. When young it is bushy and shrub-like, maturing to a small, multi-stem tree with layering branches. Its mature size is significantly less than many other kousa dogwoods, making it ideal for smaller spaces or smaller gardens. The bark on older stems is a striking winter feature, developing mottled areas of muted oranges, tans and grays. The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, broad and heart-shaped, with a graceful elongated tip. They are held slightly pendulously, which shows off the amazing variegated patterning. Each leaf has a dark green, jagged, irregular heart, surrounded by a very broad edge that is pure white when the leaf is young, maturing to pale yellow in the summer. The central green heart is often edged with areas of pale lime-green, and each leaf is a unique and beautiful piece of abstract art. In fall the leaves turn to amazing shades of red and pink, making a unique contribution to the fall display.
In late May or early June, 2 or 3 weeks after the flowering of the American dogwood trees, your tree will bloom. It may take a few years of growth before it does so, and if the summer is cool and wet the following year there may be fewer blooms. The flowers are 3 to 4 inches across, with four spreading ‘petals’ (actually modified leaves called bracts) surrounding a central cluster of true flowers, which are small and without petals. The bracts are beautiful shades of white, and uniquely, towards the end of blooming they can become variegated, with a very pale-yellow outer area and a pale green-yellow center. Trees remain in bloom for a full month. After blooming red, strawberry-like fruits may develop in late summer or early fall. These are edible, and they attract wild birds, who enjoy an early-fall treat.
The ideal place for this lovely tree is in an open woodland setting, or as a lawn specimen. It is also beautiful, planted in a border of mixed shrubs and small trees. In warm zones it could also be planted in a large box to decorate a terrace. Smaller than most other kousa dogwoods, it is a top-choice for smaller gardens, or areas where space is limited. Do not plant within 8 feet of a building.
The Tri-Splendor Kousa Dogwood grows well all the way from zone 5 into zone 8. Best growth is in areas with moist summers, as this tree is not especially drought resistant.
Full sun in cool zones, or afternoon shade everywhere, is ideal for the Tri-Splendor Kousa Dogwood. It also grows very well in the light dappled shade beneath large deciduous trees, without losing its variegated patterning. The ideal soil is rich, moist, well-drained and acidic or neutral. Avoid dry soils and strongly alkaline ones. Enrich the soil with plenty of organic material, and use these materials as mulch over the root zone, avoid direct contact with the trunk.
Kousa dogwood varieties are much more resistant to the deadly anthracnose disease that has killed so many of our native flowering dogwoods, and this tree is also generally free of other pest or disease problems, and untouched by deer. Water regularly when young, and give established plants deep soakings during the dry periods of summer. Do not rely on thunderstorms, which often don’t penetrate, especially through a tree canopy. No pruning is needed, but you could prune up some lower branches as it grows to develop a more tree-like form.
The Kousa Dogwood, Cornus kousa, is a plant first seen by Westerners in Japan and Korea. In 1907 the famous plant collector Ernest Wilson found very similar trees in western China, and these, named Cornus kousa var. chinensis, proved very reliable and best suited for garden growing. Almost all our garden kousa dogwoods are selections of this variety. Crispin Silva is a keen plantsman who runs a small nursery called Crispin’s Creations in Molalla, Oregon. He is famous for developing unique plant varieties. In 2000 he found a unique variegated tree growing in a batch of seedlings of this Chinese variety, and observed it for several years. It grew vigorously and for the three colors of the leaves he named it, ‘Tri-Splendour’. He was granted a patent in 2009.
The unique tree is the perfect choice for that ‘special something’ that should be in every garden. Bask in the splendor of its every-changing leaf colors and glorious blooms. But order now, because this rare variety is eagerly sought-after by collectors, and won’t be in our stock much longer.