a kousa dogwood i’m certain about

variegated-kousaREMEMBER THE GREAT KOUSA CONTROVERSY, when I wanted to evict my nursed-from-infancy weeping Kousa dogwood? You all helped me see the error of my ways, and we’re still together. Though I’ve often waffled on the weeper, there’s one Kousa I never have regretted planting, and that’s the showy white-variegated ‘Wolf Eyes.’ That’s it beaming at you hundreds of feet beyond my back yard in the photo, shining like a beacon, even at a smallish size. Wow.

Standard Kousas can get to be quite big things, 20 or 30 feet high and as wide or wider, making quite an impression when they’re in bloom. ‘Wolf Eyes’ is a comparative baby among the Cornus kousa clan, but a beautiful baby at that. Some references say it will get to just 6 feet high and 10 wide; I have no idea, but lust for mine to look like the one documented by University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

wolfeye-kousa-detailEven at barely 5 feet high and maybe 6 or 7 wide, my ‘Wolf Eyes’ simply lures me out to pay it a visit on a regular basis. I cannot resist. If that axis-creating eye-catchery isn’t enough, it also has long-lasting white flowers in late spring, big red fruits, and good fall color.

This one, I’m not letting go of—at least not willingly. No matter what you say.

  1. Maria Nation says:

    Margaret! You kill me with this post! The Wolf Eye seems to be the only thing I simply can’t get to grow here. I bought 2 a couple of years ago. Loved them so much I created a whole, huge shrub border just for them. They died. Replaced with two more. That summer they seemed fine. This spring: dead. Now I have the 3 year old shrub border and two ….Hicksii. I have since heard from others that the Wolf Eye just ups and dies for them. I have gobs of other dogwoods, and regular Kousas that are 20 feet high. But the Wolf Eye? Zippo. What’s the deal? (beside you tormenting me?) Maria

  2. Carole Ferguson says:

    A luxurious winter to think of what tree I want at the top of a stone wall at the end of my driveway after taking out a hedge of junipers. I think I want a dogwood. It is good exposure with east, south and west light and some protection from north (about thirty feet from the house). What would you pick? Could be 15 to 30 feet tall…..

  3. Carolyn Faulkner says:

    Hi Margaret,
    My kousa dogwood is covered in fruit right now and I was wondering if they could be dried and used to make holiday decorations?? I love your website!

  4. Amy says:


    I planted two Kousas 4 years ago on the edge of the woods which I read was their natural habitat. Never any flowers or flower buds. Any ideas?

    1. margaret says:

      Yes, Amy, they can/do grow in such spots, but I find in the North where we both garden they do with a pretty sunny spot, too, and flower heavily. Note that it’s “normal” for transplanted things to sulk and skip a year (usually not two) of bloom. Also: young plants that are seedlings, versus named varieties, may not be of an age to bloom yet (I don’t know how big/old the plants re and whether they are named cultivars or random seedlings). Cause #3: If you fertilize them they may be leafy but no flowers.

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