Pagoda Dogwood experience

felixzippy(Z4MN)April 21, 2005

Does anyone have experience with Pagoda Dogwood shrub? I'm thinking of planting 1 to 3 of them along our property line. The area is mostly shady, but does get dappled sunlight for 4 hours or so during the summer months. Also, does anyone know if it is deer resistant? Any information on this shrub or any other shrub you think would work would be geatly appreciated.



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steve_o(4a MN)

I grew one on a property in Eden Prairie for about four years. Last time I drove past that house I could not believe how huge it had become (it's probably close to 8-9 years old now). The spirea I planted near it really should have been transplanted! Our dogwood was in full sun. Great look, leafy or not, and it must be resistant to deer because I cannot recall seeing any deer-browse damage and we had plenty of deer running around. It's by no means a privacy hedge, but I thought it was quite attractive, and if I ever figure out what I want to grow at my current house, I'd be happy to have one again.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 12:13PM
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lynnsherbs(4 Minnesota)

Our neighbor has one in her front yard - north side of the house, so it fairly shady. It's doing well and has probably been there 3 or 4 years.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 12:35PM
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Steve and Lynn,

Thanks for your input. I'm not really looking for a privacy hedge, just something that would sort of block the view a bit between our house and the neighbors. Does anyone know just how tall this shrub grows and how wide it gets?

Thanks again


    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 1:47PM
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digger_nd2(z3/4 ND)

We've had a pagoda dogwood for about 20 years. It now is
about 9 feet tall and about as wide. They are the perfect speciman shrub. The shape and branching are outstanding. When it blooms it is covered with blossoms. If several of these dogwood are planted close together the unique layered branching effect would be lost.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 1:56PM
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birdwing(z4 MN)

Yikes, nine feet! Mine is planted about 6 feet from a tree and about 5 feet from a 3ft fence...We just planted it last year. Should we move it? Or would that be too hard on it? They have one at squire house gardens in afton that is probably that big. It's beautiful, you can reall see why it's called pagoda dogwood. It looks like a pagoda with it's low layered branches...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 11:17AM
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digger_nd2(z3/4 ND)

Birdwing, I think you better move your young pagoda dogwood.
They get quite large... you could move it next spring while
still dormant. They look best all alone in the landscape, not too close to other trees or shrubs. But with groundcovers or hostas, etc. beneath it. (Or, out there in the lawn as the hightlight of your yard)...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 2:05PM
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I've had one for 5 years and have kept it pruned to about 3 feet tall. I also prune it to one main stem to keep it looking like a minature tree. It has a lovely lacy layered look that I don't see working very well as a privacy hedge. When it blooms it looks as though white butterflies have landed on the tips of it's branches. I love it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 2:44PM
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This will be my third year with a pagoda dogwood so hopefully it "leaps" this year. Mine is in a full sun location so I can't attest to it's suitability in shade but I think it would be fine seeing that it's a native understory tree/shrub. I did notice a couple of tips munched off by deer this spring. I don't think they liked it too much however as it was left alone after one incident. It's a neat little tree and I would recommend!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 2:55PM
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lazyweeder(z4 MN)

I planted my Pagoda Dogwood in 1995. Right now it's 15' tall and about 12' wide.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 6:47PM
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I just want to thank everyone for their comments. I really appreciate hearing that there is a pagoda dogwood at the Squire House Gardens in Afton. We are going to have to make a trip over there to see it, just to make sure it's the right shrub for the spot we have in mind, although I'm pretty sure at this stage that it is. Does this shrub require any particular fertilizer or special care? One last question, how long do the blossoms last?
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 9:42PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

They have these at Malmborg's Garden Center for 12.99 + 25% off this weekend (April 23 & 24).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 12:31PM
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digger_nd2(z3/4 ND)

There is also a variegated pagoda dogwood.
White Flower Farm is selling it in their latest mailorder
catalog. They use it at the back of a mixed border with
other shrubs and perennials. (This form is very expensive)...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 2:04PM
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sjmarq(z4 MN)

there is also an excellenct specimen in the Jap garden at Como Park. It was stunning when I saw it last summer and have wanted one ever since.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 5:21PM
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Greenthumb(Zone 5a, MN)

Actually, there are two different variegated pagoda dogwoods: Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' and C. a. Golden ShadowsÂ.

I believe that Forest Farm is selling 'Argentea' and Broken Arrow Nursery (BAN) has Golden ShadowsÂ. BAN has a $100.00 minimum order, but they carry a number of cool plants so it shouldn't be too hard to reach their minimum order requirements.

Between the two, Golden Shadows is the superior plant. 'Argentea' has somewhat contorted/distorted foliage and that takes away from the plant a bit. Someone once commented that Golden Shadows looks like a "tree hosta".

Click the link below for a pic of Golden Shadow's foliage. The picture has a bit too much yellow tint to it. The foliage is actually much prettier than is shown in the photo, but it will give you an idea of what the foliage looks like.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 5:50PM
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Mmm..I can see the likeness of Golden Shadow to a hosta leaf. Very nice.
Chris- mine is growing in my hosta bed with a lot of shade- I have never fertilized it, it does water. The blossoms last a couple of weeks and then turn into a small berry.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 6:22PM
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steve_o(4a MN)

I just treated my Pagoda Dogwood like every other tree on the property -- watered only when Mother Nature didn't do the job herself :-) and fertilized once a year with "tree spikes."

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 11:31PM
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A special thank you to all of you who have posted comments. This was my first posting, and I truly appreciate all of your help. I went to Malmborg's Garden Center and bought three pagoda dogwood's which will be planted in various places on our property. I hope in time I'll be able to post answers to other's questions.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 8:29AM
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stefanb8(z7 MD)

Some of the wild Cornus alternifolia in our understory tends to mildew in certain seasons, but it's probably not a great enough problem to worry over. The deer tend to leave established plants alone, but will chew on anything planted in the last few years (they're well aware of the activities of humans and are always intrigued) and relish any vigorous suckers produced from the base of both wild and cultivated plants.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 12:04AM
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selkie_b(z4 MN)

I find they prune well! You can pretty much keep them whatever width or height you need to.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 10:16AM
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I am growing two, one gets sun until noon, the other is in full sun. The first Pagoda I grew was back in Iowa and it turned into the most beautiful tiered tree that was quite dense. I couldn't see through it and the cardinals loved the berries. It did prune very well and we had tons of deer, but they left it alone except for a few tips here and there. When we moved here I had to plant it again, its an all-season type tree.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 12:39AM
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Hi everyone,
I planted my pagoda dogwood shrubs, and the very next morning I discovered that during the night the deer came in and ate about 80 percent of the leaves. Does anyone know if my shrubs will survive this attack? The remaining leaves have not been touched by the deer, and I'm wondering if new leaves will grow back in. It doesn't appear as though any of the branches were eaten, just the leaves.
Thanks for any help you can offer, Chris

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 9:45PM
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selkie_b(z4 MN)

Should be fine... they take to pruning very well. Just keep those deer off them!


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 10:42AM
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Whew! Thanks Marie! I'll be out spraying them with deer repellent!!!


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 11:03PM
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No, Pagoda dogwood are NOT resistant to deer. In fact, in my experience deer prefer and actually seek them out.

I planted what the nursery worker called "as good a dogwood you'll find" by the corner of my house, surrounded by daylillies, backed up by spreading yew. It was in fact a very good Pagoda dogwood with excellent form. It was about 3' high and 3' wide 4 years ago when I planted it, and it is now 3' high and 3' wide today, because every spring, and again during/after flowering the deer first chew off the spring buds then the new foliage after it pushes out again from the next nearest auxilary buds.

The Pagoda dogwood, as you may know has a distinct branching habit and there is also quite a bit of space between branching and leaf nodes. It does not have very many auxilary buds and does not respond well at all to this sort of "pruning". It is like when a mature tree is "topped". Most times the twig simply dies back to the nearest branch/leaf node and I have to wait again for the next year to try to get some new growth on this thing! The daylillies, now well established, are almost as tall at my Pagoda. I keep thinking eventually the Pagaoda will grow above the deer's reach, but they keep pruning it back down to their level!

I live on a busy street with a wooded bluff behind me and a wooded bluff behind the neighbors across the street. It's not like there is not enough natural forage available for the deer, so I swear they puposefully seek out my shrub. In fact I know the neighbors across the street have planted a "deer mix" in their backyard to try to attract deer. They would be well advised to plant Pagoda dogwood!

I've tried hanging dial soap on the shrub. I've even gone so far as to sprinkle "human scent" on and near the shrub, but that only lasts until the next rain. I'm about ready to take up arms against these pests. I recently learned the city opened up a city bow hunting application... I may have to take up a new hobby.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 11:29AM
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    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 5:54PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)


Wow this is an old thread resurfacing. I don't have a Pagoda Dogwood since I moved out into the country as I did not think it hardy enough. I did have one while I lived in town and from that experience I believe if you leave yours alone it will eventually (slowly) gain it's airy, layering effect.

By the way...take his weed wacker away from him. ha ha...Give him a pair of gloves and send him off to weeding instead. ha ha

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 11:09AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Ladylotus is right.

BTW, I have seen wild pagoda dogwood at the Canadian border, near Ely. IMO, I think it's a fairly good bet in Z3, even if you don't know where the plant genetics came from.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 7:35PM
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We have it growing wild in the woods here, too, and we're zone 3a and see plenty of -40*F temps (yes, we ACTUALLY get -40*F, unlike in the Cities where they all brag about how 'cold' it is to out-of-staters when their climate is actually quite mild. I'm sure there are Alaskans that think the same thing about me. Oh well)... anyway, no offense to Twin Citians... I love all Minnesotans.

But I think dogwood likes protection from heavy winds and likes a good drink... Temperature is not the limiting factor in North Dakota.. it's wind and lack of precip, I think.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 5:15PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Snowguy could be right. The ones I've seen at the CA border were in the south slope understory.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 5:32PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thanks guys, I will have to consider getting one for my yard then. I loved my Pagoda while living in town.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 11:01PM
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Hi Everyone. I started this thread a couple of years ago and am surprised to see it resurface. The first year right after planting 3 pagoda dogwoods the deer came in and ate quite a bit. Very disappointing! However, ever since I've been spraying with Liquid Fence and haven't had a problem since. All three were planted in dappled sun/shade, but now two of the three are exposed to more sunlight as the neighbors removed a couple of their trees. I'm anxious to see how that will affect their growth next summer. So far the three have grown some each year, but isn't exactly a quick grower. It is a beautiful shaped shrub and look forward to future developments. Oh, I also tried to keep them well watered during our dry hot summer and they seem to have survived quite well. We'll see what next year brings.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Why do people call this plant a shrub? These are trees. They can hit thirty feet in the right conditions. Those I observe in the forests here are not shrubs at all.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 9:45AM
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Sara_pruner 5

When is it OK to prune this tree? Ours hangs over the walk up to our front door and impedes anyone over 5' from entering or exiting our house. I would like to prune it now while it has its leaves so I can choose the right branches to eliminate.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 1:20PM
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Some misc. comments...

  • Full sun is not recommended for this tree

  • It tends to sucker, cut these off if you prefer a specimen form

  • Protect the trunk of young plants with fencing for the first few years from being girdled by rabbits, etc.

  • As popularity of this plant spreads and people inevitably place them in non-optimal sites, golden canker will increase also. Check your tree for symptoms (link below).

Sara, for myself, I wouldn't prune it now, esp. if you have it in a sunnier location. If you need the leaves to decide which branches to axe, I would tie string or ribbon around the ones to be removed once the plant goes dormant.

Here is a link that might be useful: golden canker & pagoda dogwood

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 8:17AM
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BlueAng(z4 MN)

I notice no one metion that it is also suspectible to a canker which often attacks old trees.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 7:16PM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

We tried one of these in our full-sun front yard several years ago. The first winter half of it died off...leaving it unbalanced and not so attractive. So we transplanted it into our wooded backyard and the thing has never looked better! The only sun this tree gets is in the early spring.

Kristy :)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 4:14PM
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fitzerroneous(z4 MN)

I'm excited to see this thread resurface - I've been thinking about a pagoda dogwood for my front yard and found this thread a few weeks ago.

Has anyone seen these for sale? I'm in Duluth, so I'd prefer a greenhouse up here somewhere, but I would go to the TC for one. And does anyone have an idea of cost? I'd like to get a larger one, but because they seem hard to come by, I'm afraid they might be much more expensive than other flowering trees.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 11:50AM
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I ordered mine mail order through Forest Farm. I would try phone around through the yellow pages--Edelweiss, Engwalls, Lake Superior, etc.

The deer find mine to be tasty candy. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 4:31PM
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Fairly common at the local nurseries in TC area. Usually the same price as other trees of the same size.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 6:31PM
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I'm hoping someone in the Twin Cities/Hudson Wisc area will allow me to gather some of the Pagoda Dogwood berries to be used in dyeing yarn. Thanks in advance. I can be reached at


    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 2:26PM
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larry Seymour 4

I have a 20 year old pagoda dogwood. It is one of my favorite trees, and is 20'x15'. I was not warned when it was planted that rabbits (and deer?) like its bark. It has now been completely girdled and is slowly dying. I never fertilized or watered it, it thrived with natural rainfall. The trunk needs protection well above the snow line from rabbits which I have only recently found out. I will eventually have to remove it.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 11:39AM
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jazzygardener(z4 MN)

I've had very good lucky with Pagoda dogwoods. They grow fast and are a beautiful tree. I have partial shade and they do great. I don't know if deer are attracted to them or not. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 8:43PM
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I have a 3 year old Pagoda Dogwood, 5'x6', pretty much in full sun until late afternoon. Do have to protect the trunk from the rabbits though. The rabbits girdled my Reliance Peach tree, Asian Pear tree and a Cornus Kousa Dogwood tree last fall before I had installed my chicken wire fencing. Now thinking of installing hardware cloth year round on trees.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 9:35AM
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    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 5:49PM
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mnfairy(z4 MN)

Pagoda Dogwood is my favorite tree (I have 3). The 1st one I got was at a garden club tour and it was just a twig when I planted it. It's in a shaded area and is not as big as my 2nd one. My newest one is variegated and only about a foot tall. Had to put a cage around this one because either deer or rabbits were nibbling on it.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:58PM
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