Empress of China white bracts will give way to an
edible strawberry-like fruit that has been
described as having the texture of a persimmon. Of
course, the fruit is also relished by birds
is nothing quite like the mid-June bloom of the dogwoods
in the Deep South. As strange as that sounds, consider
dogwoods partnered with hydrangeas, and dogwoods
blooming in sequence with mimosas and crape myrtles.
Thanks to the incredible Empress of China dogwood, it is
of China is known botanically as Cornus ellipitica,
though often seen in the trade as Cornus angustata, is
native to China, Korea and Japan. It is cold hardy in
zones 6-9 and is evergreen, reaching 15 to 18 feet tall
and 15 feet wide. In the colder regions the tree will be
semi-evergreen. As with many other trees and shrubs,
once new growth emerges in the spring, older leaves are
might think that an evergreen dogwood could not produce
enough flower power to overcome the leaves and be showy
but this is simply not the case. From close-up to
viewing from a distance there is a mass of glistening
white bracts. Empress of China blooms will eventually
give way to red fruit. The strawberry like fruit is
edible with some equating the texture to a ripe
persimmon. Like other dogwoods however the fruit is
relished by feeding birds.
it is still not the staple of the garden center, things
have changed dramatically. Empress of China is found in
the Southern Living Plant Collection and was also
selected as a 2015 Georgia Gold Medal Winner. Once you
do locate yours, plant it in a well-drained bed with
similar acidity pH needed for azaleas and rhododendrons.
dogwoods hate wet feet it really makes sense to prepare
a fertile plant bed. It will be most cruel to see
gardeners simply stick this new dogwood in the middle of
a full sun yard of tight clay and encroaching turf. This
most likely will result in a negative opinion of a great
Empress of China dogwood is a perfect size for the
smaller urban landscape. They perform best in a morning
sun-afternoon shade location. We have ours planted on
the east side of tall pines which gives it adequate
protection from the scorching afternoon sun.
choices of companion in the landscape are unlimited. By
choosing Satsuki azaleas that bloom in May or early June
you can create a landscape that rivals the spring look.
There are scores of varieties, but over the years I have
grown and admired Amaghasa, Higasa and Wakaebeisu. The
Encore group of azaleas would also make great partners.
Then as I mentioned above, hydrangeas and well-place
crape myrtles have real possibilities.
the standpoint of texture and lush garden surroundings,
consider the giant leopard plant (Farfugium japonica
Giganteum) with the enormous glossy round to
kidney-shaped leaves, hostas and ferns of all sorts.
I will always treasure the native dogwood, Cornus
florida, the threat of the disease called anthracnose
steals the joy. So far, Empress of China is showing good
resistance, allowing us to revel in the beauty of the
glorious white bracts. Talk to your garden center about
Empress of China; you feel like royalty.