CORNUS continued
last updated 03/01/2018

Cornus florida and its cultivars

This species originates from the Eastern United States and indeed many of the modern cultivars have come from the U.S.A. The Cherokee group is an example of this. In America, Cornus florida is an incredibly common species occurring naturally and disease is becoming a problem (particularly anthracnose). The Cherokee group has been bred in part for its disease resistance, which is very relevant in the States. Fortunately it is not a problem in this country. They form large shrubs or small bushy trees to approx 5m depending on the cultivar and conditions; some are quite upright, others more mound like.

They flower in May (after the nuttalliis but before the kousas) and are white in the species. Several selections of the variable C. florida var. rubra have been made giving shades of pink and red.

For extra interest and colour all summer, consider the variegated and coloured leaf forms. The two basic types of variegation are cream or gold margins. There are also completely gold leaved forms. So it is possible to have any combination of leaf colour with red or white flowers! They all have beautiful red and orange autumn colours.

They thrive in well drained soil which does not dry out too much in the summer and benefit from full sun to ripen the wood for flower production. Avoid frost pockets and shallow soil over chalk is not ideal. 

Although it is certainly possible to grow these trees in this country, they are not particularly well adapted to the British climate and seldom thrive. Certainly they are unlikely to attain the same grandeur that can be seen in the US. Since they are difficult to please in our climate and therefore seldom live up to expectations, we propagate them only rarely. As a general rule, unless you are very determined to try one of these, I would recommend almost any other Cornus in this group in preference!

CORNUS florida 'Appalachian Spring'
White bracts.

CORNUS florida 'Cherokee Brave'
This recent selection has deep rich pink bracts, highlighted by a pale pink centre.

CORNUS florida 'Cherokee Chief'
One of the best pinks - vigorous upright habit and deep rose-pink bracts, though the exact colour will be determined by light levels. As with many of the floridas, the purplish bark is covered with a lovely white bloom in winter.

CORNUS florida 'Sweetwater Red'
Reddish pink bracts.

CORNUS florida 'White Cloud'
White bracts.

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