Cornus controversa 'Variegata'
wedding cake tree
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- Position: full sun to part shade
- Soil: deep, fertile, moisture-retentive soil
- Rate of growth: slow-growing to average
- Flowering period: June
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Known as the wedding-cake tree, because of its distinctive, horizontal, tiered habit, this tree makes a lovely focal point for a small to medium-sized garden. It has bright green leaves with bold, creamy-white margins, which turn red-purple in autumn and produces clusters of white flowers in June. Although it tolerates dappled shade, it performs best in fertile, moisture-retentive soil in full sun. This plant in a 3lt pot wil be approx 20cm tall so won't have the tiered branches yet, - this spectacular shape develops as it grows.
- Garden care: Incorporate a quantity of well-rotted garden compost or horse manure in the planting hole to improve the moisture-retentive qualities of the soil. The tree requires no regular pruning, since this would interfere with its graceful, tiered habit.
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Q:Is it possible to grow this in a pot?
I saw the tree for the first time today and bought a small plant.
Is it possible to keep it in a large plant pot rather than planting it out in the garden border?Asked on 12/6/2016 by MS from Rugby Warwickshire United Kingdom
It will be quite happy in a really large pot for a couple of years (provided it is kept really well fed and watered), however ultimately it will be much happir in the ground.Answered on 23/6/2016 by Helen from crocus
Q:just a small bit of lawn I wanted to have a little tree as a feature, but this seems a bit big in terms of width and height?? Can you keep it down at all or does it just loose its shape? Maybe better to stick with some kind of crab apple or flowering cherry?
ThanksAsked on 10/6/2016 by grannygoose from devon
I would not advise keeping this cut back too hard as it will lose its wonderful shape. If you want something smaller, then I would recommend this ornamental cherry...
http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/prunus-kiku-shidare-zakura/classid.4643/Answered on 17/6/2016 by Helen from crocus
Q:I have a cornus wedding cake tree which has been in the ground for 18 months.
It was in full bud and then there was a late frost everything is now blackened and appears dead, what can I do??Asked on 28/5/2016 by scoop from plymouth
This is such a shame, although late frosts have hot may plants badly this year. I'm afraid there is little you can do now though apart from feed it and water it and in time it will start to put on lots of fresh new growth.Answered on 31/5/2016 by Helen from crocus
Q:How well will cornus controversa variegate withstand frost?
We have damp, rich acid soil, in which rhododendrons grow.
But we are in north east Fife, Scotland and have ground frosts up to the end of May.Asked on 30/3/2016 by sheena from Cupar, north-east Fife (inland location)
This plant is fully hardy so it should be fine. If you have a really heavy frost then possibly new tender shoots could be caught, but this plant is meant to tolerate most aspects and likes a moist, acidic, fertile, well drained soil.
Hope this helpsAnswered on 31/3/2016 by Anonymous from crocus
Q:My cornus contraversa variegata looks fabulous in full leaf but has not one flower this year. Can you tell me why? I am paying attentions now to when it is best pruned as it is growing over a pathway so needs a little pruning. I understand it is to be pruned in late winter or early spring. It is about six years old.Asked on 16/6/2015 by upsydaisy from Essex
There are a number of reasons why plants don't flower including too much shade or not enough water or nutrients. I am not really sure why yours has not produced flowers this year, but given time and the right conditions, there is no reason why it shouldn't flower again. You can often give them a bit of a push by making sure it is kept well watered and feed it during the growing season with a high potash fertiliser.
Regarding pruning these plants don't like hard pruning , so if you want to remove a couple of branches it is important that that you take it slowly, tackling perhaps one branch each year - any pruning should be undertaken from autumn to early spring.
Hope this helps.Answered on 18/6/2015 by Anonymous from crocus
Q:Upon delivery of a 2 year old Cornus Controversa in a large plastic tub, I watered it well with couple of gallons of fresh under ground water from a bore hole. A few days later I noticed its leaves really drooping badly so watered it again. Now, 10 days later and in the ground with a good application of compost and a further watering in, it looks even worse and I fear I have overwatered it to near death.. Can this be possible as the tub had drainage holes? Help please?!Asked on 11/6/2015 by momo from Surrey
It is indeed possible to give a plant too much water, so only water it when the compost is getting quite dry. Also, do keep in mind that these plants do have naturally pendent foliage, so it can be mistaken for looking a little droopy.Answered on 15/6/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:We recently got this plant (35lts) from nursery and planted in our garden (around a month ago). Based on my reading the flowering time is between May & early June. However, our plant does not show any sign of flowering. Is there a particular reason why we haven't seen any flowers? Any particular food / compost that we should be providing? Appreciate your help / advice on this.Asked on 11/6/2015 by John H from Shinfield
These plants often take a few years to start flowering, so you may need to be patient, but it is also worth keeping in mind that even older shrubs will often focus their energies into producing root growth rather than flowers when they are newly planted. I would just feed it (following manufacturers instructions) with a general purpose fertiliser such as Vitax Q4, keep it well watered and make sure it gets lots of sun and in time it will start to flower.Answered on 15/6/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:I think I may have over fertilised my recently planted wedding cake tree, if this is the cause of the problem will it recover? or can you advise me as to what action I should take, thanking you in anticipation.Asked on 10/6/2015 by greenfingers from ireland
You can do a lot of damage to a plant if you use too much fertiliser. If you think you have over-fed yours, then the best course of action would be to leave the hose running on the soil as this may leach some of it through.Answered on 15/6/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:We have six year old what we thought was a Wedding Cake tree - but it is definitely a shrub! This is slightly disappointing although it is healthy and colourful. We have given it enough time to shape but unfortunately it is just a normal shrub shape. Can we hard prune it ? It is approx 6 foot high but at least 10-12 foot wide ( round) standing in its own lawn space. Any advice welcome.Asked on 26/5/2015 by Happy gardener from Leicestershire
It is difficult to give advice without first knowing what plant you do have. Perhaps then you could send some photos in to our customer services team and we can have a look. I would say however that these plants do have a spreading habit, which is created by the tiered branching.Answered on 27/5/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:I have planted one of these a little while ago, about a month now, and it's leaves seem to be a bit floppy as though it isn't happy. It is in a nice position as all information about the tree suggests re siting. I have many different shrubs in my garden and i think the soil is therefore varied; rhododendrons, viburnums, birches, hazel...It isn't suffering from being too dry and i don't believe too damp either. What could be causing this please?
thank you. MadeleineAsked on 16/5/2015 by dibsey from bexhill
It is a natural feature of these plants for the leaves to hang down from the stems, so unless they start dropping off, I would not be too concerned.Answered on 21/5/2015 by Helen from crocus
Certain shrubs have a tiered architectural shape, that’s broader than taller, with almost horizontal branches that really show off the flowers to full advantage. These make excellent specimens stretching over a lawn, or placed strategically in the garRead full article