White Dogwood ‘Kesselringii’

White dogwood ‘Kesselringii’, or by its Latin name, cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’, is a cultivar of cornus alba, a species of dogwood native to Siberia, Korea and Northern China. It can cope well with colder temperatures, approximately as low as -20C. ‘Kesselringii’ is a vigorous deciduous shrub with dark red stems which turn dark purple in winter. The oval leaves start out dark green, turning reddish purple or bronze in autumn before they drop and reveal the lovely stems.

Clusters of creamy white flowers are followed by elegant white berries. The dark purple stems set it apart from other dogwoods. It contrasts very well with other varieties of dogwood, for example yellow-stemmed or red-stemmed, in a mixed border or as an informal hedge. White dogwood ‘Kesselringii’ needs to be cut back hard in early spring to really bring out its winter colours, but it is best to wait two years until the plants are fully established.

Remove one third or half of the sticks, specifically selecting the oldest stems that will offer little winter interest. White dogwood ‘Kesselringii’ is a good option for waterlogged soil, as it is one of the few hedging plants that will do best in wet, boggy soil types. For optimal winter colour select a position in full sun or partial shade. Being a vigorous grower, this variety of white dogwood will grow an average of 20-40cm a year. White dogwood hedges can grow 2m tall and will provide some degree of screening as long as the leaves are attached to the stems. The showy stems together with the somewhat atypical shape make this variety of cornus alba suitable for informal hedging only.

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