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Scarlet Fire Is a Healthy Kousa Dogwood for Small Spaces

Virtues: This very heavy-flowering pink kousa dogwood comes from Dr. Tom Molnar at Rutgers University. Introduced in 2017, it represents 45 years of dogwood-breeding work at Rutgers, and it is the first kousa dogwood to emerge from the program, which at first focused interspecific hybrids. Scarlet Fire is a disease-resistant dogwood that shows vigorous growth and blooms at an early age. Named a Gold Medal Plant by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2022. 


Common name: Scarlet Fire kousa dogwood

Botanical name: Cornus kousa ‘Rutpink’

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Flowers/fruit: Bloom occurs in late spring, with showy, deep pink bracts surrounding the tiny greenish fertile flowers. The bracts' color and substance can last six to eight weeks even in strong sun and high heat. Round red fruits ripen in autumn.

Foliage: Deciduous. Medium green in spring and summer, turning burgundy in autumn.

Habit: Small tree growing to 25 feet tall with a crown spreading about 20 feet wide.

How to grow it: Plant kousa dogwood in full sun to part shade, in well-drained soil. Provide water while it is getting established. A naturally small tree, it should not need pruning, but this can be done in late winter if necessary. USDA Zones 5–8. 

Image courtesy of Tom Molnar/Rutgers University