Cornus controversa 'Variegata'

3 litre pot £59.99
available to order from midsummer
Quantity 1 Plus Minus
Buy Cornus controversa 'Variegata' wedding cake tree: Tree with a distinctive, tiered habit

This shrub is deciduous so it will lose all its leaves in autumn, then fresh new foliage appears again each spring.

  • 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 will be approx 20cm tall so won't have the tiered branches yet, but this spectacular shape will develop 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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Eventual height & spread

Eventual height and spread
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Lovely even in 1st year


It is a tree that will take a few years to take shape, but it's lovely even during the first season!




The plant is growing well, am looking foward to it flowering


Already given

Salvia Sue



Nice small tree, survived a hard winter in Scotland.


Not yet formed the wedding cake structure but doing well, very healthy despite a hard winter, several moves about the garden & coastal conditions! I have it in full sun in a south facing garden, very free draining soil.

Klinkin, Katie

East Lothian


Very good quality tree


We realised we'd planted this tree in the wrong place but it's moved very easily and is still thriving!


Sutton Coldfield



4.8 4


Hello I purchase a "Wedding Cake Tree" from you last year, and was wondering how long does it take to establish a flourish. My poor tree looks very poorly, mostly twigs and few greeny brown leaves and no flowers. Do I need to feed it?


Hello - thanks for getting in touch, sorry to hear your wedding cake tree is not establishing as well as you had hoped. During this hot weather I would recommend watering twice a day, early morning and late in the evening when temperatures are lower. Feeding the plant with seaweed extract once a month is a great idea during the growing season (April-September). If you could send us some photos, together with your order number to - we'd be happy to take a look. If you could let the team know you posted here first that would be very helpful, thank you.


When is the best time to move it from one site to another please?

Big b

Hello there The best time to move a deciduous plant is when it is dormant between October to March.

Can you suggest other plants which would go well in a large bed with this cornus? Obviously it will be the centre piece but will need under planting/companion planting .


Hello, It depends on the type of style you are trying to achieve, however I would definitely include some spring-flowering bulbs - please click on the link below to go straight to them, and then perhaps any of the following.... Bergenia Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae Geraniums ('Rozanne' is my favourite) Helleborus Spring-flowering bulbs


I have had a cornus controversa for over 10 years now. The problem is that although it has tiers and looks very healthy it has grown in width but not height . The width is probably about 10 ft and height at the end of the branches about 5 ft but the middle of the tree about 4 ft. I have put garden compost on every year and fed the tree. What am I doing wrong . The tree is variegated, I have a lot of green shoots come at the base every year which I cut off.


Hello, I am not sure that you have done anything wrong, but it does sound as though the crown may have suffered some damage at some point. The good news is that given time the tree will recover and it will start to put on more height.


Is it possible to grow the cornus controversy in a large pot? Thanks


Hello, These are quite large plants, so are better suited to being planted out in the ground.


Hi I purchased a wedding tree last year , as loved the shape We have large weed looking leaves below the graft, attached to the tree ( tree is in a pot) Can you advise please


Hello, If your tree is grafted, then you should remove any growth coming from below the graft union as soon as it appears.


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?


Hello, 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.


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? Thanks


Hello, 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... Prunus Kiku-


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??


Hello, 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.


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.


Hello there 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 helps

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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 gar

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