Autumn is the season to plant dogwoods, allowing them to get established over the winter, before next spring's warm weather.
The University of Tennessee Dogwood Research Team is continuing in its mission to develop improved dogwoods that are ideal for Tennessee landscapes.
The team, which is part of the UT Institute of Agriculture, is well known for its ‘Appalachian’ series of dogwoods. Appalachian Spring is resistant to dogwood anthracnose, a deadly disease for dogwoods. Appalachian Mist, Appalachian Snow and pink-tinged Appalachian Blush are white-bracted cultivars that are highly resistant to powdery mildew, another serious threat. Appalachian Joy is highly resistant to powdery mildew. However it is this cultivar’s blossoms that catch attention, because it has extra bracts that make for a showy spring display.
This year, the team has released three new varieties. Two have unusual narrow column-like shapes and will be sold in Japan, where garden space is scarce. In the U.S., the team is releasing Pam’s Mountain Bouquet, a white cultivar whose bracts resemble perfect squares of white paper. This cultivar is a Cornus kousa and will bloom later than other flowering dogwoods, helping to extend the season of spring blooms.
The work that resulted in the new tree started more than two decades ago, when scientists with UTIA began evaluating kousa species for resistance to anthracnose, a serious disease that can lead to dogwood death. The best of the trees were planted and preserved at the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The dogwood team then chose Pam’s Mountain Bouquet as the best of the best.
Pam’s Mountain Bouquet is expected to become available to homeowners in four years, allowing nurseries time to build up their stock. UT gives Tennessee nurseries first right of refusal on dogwood varieties for at least two years, to give them a head start on the market.
The Dogwood Team’s development of disease-resistant dogwoods has been a boon to the state’s nursery industry. A study by UT Extension and AgResearch scientists calculated that promoting disease-resistant trees in Tennessee has created an estimated $7.8 million in additional revenues for nursery producers.
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