Cornus 'KN4-43' STARLIGHT®

Cornus 'KN4-43'
Cornus 'KN4-43' STARLIGHT®
hybrid dogwood
SIZE/TYPE taller shrub
 medium-sized tree
LEAVES deciduous broadleaf
LOCATION full sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 5b   (down to -27°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Deciduous broadleaf
náhled foto
This dogwood comes from an interspecific hybridization of cornus kousa and cornus nuttallii. Dr. Elwin R. Orton from the Rutgers University of New Jersey, USA, was the man behind this work that began in 1973. The aim was to bring a plant with superior winter hardiness as well has resistance against the so-called dogwood decline in the USA caused by the anthracnose epidemic in the last decades of 20th century, and powdery mildew. Moreover, c. nuttallii is a fast and vigorous grower which is not a feature suitable for common-size gardens and the hybridization slowed down the growth rate as well as reduced the ultimate height. Recently, this hybrid received a specific name honouring the breeder’s name: x elwinortonii. Two varieties rose from this breeding, they are listed under a series name Jersey Star™. One is called VENUS® and the other STARLIGHT®.

STARLIGHT® is a hybrid dogwood patented PP16293 in 2006, producing a profusion of large flowers. In fact, botanically they are flower bracts because the true flowers are miniature and composed in a small sphere. Therefore, the composition cannot be called inflorescence but involucre. It is 10-11 cm across and is made of typically 4 (exceptionally 5 or 6) broadly elliptic, almost snow-white bracts, much broader than those on c. kousa, to the extent that their margins may (not always) slightly overlap. Flowering begins in mid May and lasts for 3-4 weeks, weather conditions pending. Quantity and size of flowers vary from year to year.

Deciduous leaves are large, 10-11 long and 5-6 cm wide, acuminate, ovate, dark green, and do not curl or droop as much as foliage of their parents. In autumn they turn vibrant shades of orange and red. This dogwood is a faster grower compared to c. kousa and will eventually reach 6-8 m in height and 4-5 m in width. Pruning can keep it smaller and is possible immediately after flowering. Training it into a multistemmed tree does miracles in the landscape. It is resistant to diseases and borers.

STARLIGHT® dogwood will look its best when planted as a free-standing specimen. In late spring it will have undivided attention thanks to its profuse flowering garden, and later you will be able to enjoy the structure of a densely leaved tree or tall shrub until autumn. If, however, your aim is to grow it in a mixed border, consider the companions carefully. We suggest combining it with compact or dwarf, or even ground-covering varieties only, so that each plant gets its attention. Yakushimanum rhododendrons, dwarf conifers, and/or evergreen groundcovers could do the job.

Every dogwood likes deep, acidic soil, rich in organic material, and always moist. Some gardeners advise planting it in semi-shade to reduce summer sunlight, but we do not recommend that. Plant it in full sun and mulch the roots well. In dry spells provide extra watering and thus you can rest assured your dogwood will flower profusely and will be richer and healthier. Feeding is not recommended, but a selective fertilizer enhancing flowering and leaf colour may be considered if you are not convinced about your soil quality. STARLIGHT® is guaranteed hardy to about -27 °C (USDA zone 5b) but bark split may occur in colder regions with long-lasting winters.

Last update 08-09-2021.

Cornus kousa
Cornus kousa var.
Cornus (
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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