Cornus Alternifolia "Golden Shadows" - Growth Rate?

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

I have a Cornus Alternifolia "Golden Shadows" that I've grown from bareroot since 2010. This will be it's 3rd season in the ground - see pic. I really like it, but thought it may be 4 or 5 feet by now. It seems to grow very slowly. Does anyone have any experience with this tree? It's in a spot where it gets about 4 or 5 hours mid-day sun and some dappled sun in the late afternoon. Is that perhaps too much? I know they like some shade and I thought 4 or 5 hours was really "part shade". Any input would be really appreciated!

Thumbnail by sherriseden
Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

There's a few comments here: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/trees/msg0822060830575.html
It may be too much sun for it and the best ones I've seen were in botanical gardens near creeks or in moist shade locations. It may be too exposed for it to thrive. One comment mentioned very organic compost soil with consistent moisture.

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

Aha - thanks much, Growin'! Well, I can't really shade it, but I can water it more and give it compost. I should have known that cultivars that are varigated or differ in color from the species are not generally vigorous. I think I did know that in 2010, but just got sucked into the hype and how pretty it was. Oh, well, live and learn - or not, sometimes. Learn, that is!

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

It doesn't look too bad. I bet it's just taken it's time to settle in. Summer moisture & added compost would be key.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Even if it were a more vigorous grower, trees/shrubs often take a couple years to settle in before they really do much growing. There's a saying which I think was originally applied to perennials but can apply to trees/shrubs as well "first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap". The timeframe to get to "leaping" and the amount of growth that you'll see once they get there are going to vary widely from one type of plant to another, but I have quite a few trees & shrubs that seemed to follow that 3 yr principle where I really didn't see much growth the first couple years I had them.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

ecrane3 - love that saying. And it's so right! I think Cornus alternifolia, although I'm not sure, that it is an understory tree. Anything variegated can be susceptible to burn in sun (few exceptions) but once it gets established may prove to be more sturdy.

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

Yes, I had forgotten about that saying. I feel pretty hopeful about it now! Actually, that photo was taken a couple weeks ago. It's much fuller now. I will take a pic later and post for you!

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I have Golden Shadows growing in shady woodland. It looks healthy, but is definitely slow growing. Probably still just 3ft tall after 3-4yrs. But I really like it - the leaves really glow in spring.

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

Here it is today - he's filling out!

Thumbnail by sherriseden
Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

I'd check those ties to make sure they aren't strangling the main stem.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

i agree with weerobin - i have two golden shadows and they are very slow growing and planted as an understory tree/bush in shade, mine at least tend to spread verse grow vertically. note that i did have one planted in an area that got to much sun and resulted in leaf burn and hence the move to a shade location. leaf color is spring is very nice. have ordered a golden bullion this spring.

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

Growin - thanks for the reminder! I actually took those ties off a few days ago to give him some "sway" room. I've heard that strengthens the roots.

wha - let us know how the bullion does. My Golden Shadow has never really had leaf burn, so I think the sun is right. Guess I just need to wait. And wait. : )

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I like Gold Bullion for it's really bright early spring golden color.
It's also slow growing.
It gets a little lost later in the summer as it loses it's bright gold coloration.
I couldn't find a picture that does it justice, but what I really like is the contrast between the bright gold leaves and the reddish stems.

Thumbnail by Weerobin
Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

i am looking forward to it - I killed one last year when i left it is full sun before planting out - will take better care this year.

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

Weerobin, that's a beautiful set of leaves - I can imagine the rest of the tree being just as pretty!

Wha, not that I'm happy about your killed tree, but . . . it's really good to hear that other good gardeners make mistakes! We're human, after all.

So, right after I said "Oh, my Golden Shadows has never had leaf burn from the sun . . . ", guess what it has? Frost burn. Of course! I must have forgotten to knock on wood! : ) The pretty gold/green variegated leaves are now a bit brown around the edges due to our frighteningly early 2 weeks of 70's and 80's in MARCH - bringing on the leaves - followed by several frosts. Grrr!

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Here's my Golden Shadows from yesterday. Blooming.

Thumbnail by Weerobin
Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

very nice - you are way ahead of us up here

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

Stunning!

Des Plaines, IL(Zone 5b)

Gorgeous! Mine looked like that - without the flowers - a few weeks ago when we had the bizarre 2 week stint of 70's and 80's. However, it now has same leaves sorta sad looking with brown margins. Darn frost.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Thanks guys.... I've found the new pagoda dogwood cultivars are much stronger growers than the previous variegated cultivars.
I'm also interested in trying the new cornus controversa cultivars.
I have struck out repeatedly w/ the first variegated c. controversa cultivars which looked great in their 'publicity shots', but I never could keep alive.
Do any of you have experience with the newer cornus controversa cultivars?

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