How to Grow and Care for a Dogwood Tree

When it comes to choosing the right tree for your landscaping, a Dogwood Tree is an excellent choice. Dogwood Trees are deciduous and usually small. However, some varieties can grow up to 50 feet tall. Most of them bloom with white, pink, or red flowers in early spring. A dogwood tree is known for its stunning blossoms and appealing structure. They are absolutely beautiful!

Caring for and growing a dogwood tree can be a rewarding experience. In this article, we’ll take you through the process of nurturing these enchanting trees, from choosing the right location to maintaining their health and vibrancy. We’ll also look at some of the most popular varieties.

Choosing the Perfect Dogwood Tree

Choosing the perfect Dogwood for your area and yard comes down to a few key factors. First off, you’ll want to consider your hardiness zone. Not all Dogwoods are created equal when it comes to tolerating different climates. For instance, the Flowering Dogwood thrives in zones 5-9, while the Kousa Dogwood can withstand a slightly wider range, from zones 5-8.

Next, you will want to think about the size of your yard or landscaped area you are using the tree. Dogwoods can vary in size, with some reaching up to 40 feet in height, while others remain shrubby and small. Pick a variety that suits the space you have available.

The last thing to keep in mind is to not forget about the aesthetic aspect! Different Dogwoods offer different colors of blossoms, leaf colors, and even bark texture. Choose a variety that will complement your existing landscape and bring you joy every time you look at it. We chose a Dogwood Tree with white blossoms for a more elegant landscape look.

Here’s a look at some of the most popular Dogwood tree varieties:

1. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

The Flowering Dogwood, native to North America, is a true spectacle. Its springtime display of white or pink blossoms is a herald of the warmer seasons. This medium-sized tree can reach heights of 20-30 feet and is popular in residential landscaping due to its beautiful spring flowers and vibrant red-purple autumn foliage.

2. Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Often referred to as the Japanese or Chinese Dogwood, the Kousa Dogwood is a native of East Asia. Blooming later than the Flowering Dogwood, this variety offers an extended floral show with its white or pink flowers appearing in late spring to early summer. It also bears an edible fruit that matures in late summer, resembling a large raspberry.

3. Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)

The Pacific Dogwood, indigenous to the western regions of North America, is another eye-catching variety. With its lovely white blossoms resembling those of the Flowering Dogwood, it’s a taller relative, growing up to 50 feet. What sets the Pacific Dogwood apart is its striking autumn display, with leaves transforming into radiant shades of red and orange.

4. Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas)

The Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, native to Europe and Asia, offers a delightful twist in the dogwood family. This variety is one of the first trees to bloom in late winter or early spring, showcasing clusters of bright yellow flowers even before the leaves appear. The cherry-like, bright red fruit that follows is edible, and often used in preserves and syrups.

5. Giant Dogwood (Cornus controversa)

The Giant Dogwood, also known as the Wedding Cake Tree, hails from East Asia. It’s a large deciduous tree, reaching up to 50 feet tall. The tree is known for its layered, horizontal branches that give it a tiered appearance, much like a wedding cake. The white blossoms bloom in late spring, followed by black berries in the fall.

6. Himalayan Dogwood (Cornus capitata)

The Himalayan Dogwood is a unique addition to the family, native to the Himalayas and China. It can grow up to 40 feet tall and is evergreen in milder climates. It produces a profusion of creamy white blossoms in spring that are followed by strawberry-like fruit, which lends the tree another of its common names, the Strawberry Tree.

Planting Your Dogwood Tree

First, let’s get that tree in the ground! Before you start, it’s important to remember that location is key. Dogwoods love areas of partial shade; under larger trees is where they’re happiest. So find a spot with a bit of cover, but not too shady.

Dogwoods aren’t too fussy about soil, but they prefer well-drained, acidic soil. When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole about three times wider than the root ball, but no deeper. Place the tree in the hole and backfill it with the removed soil. Water it thoroughly after planting.

Caring for Your Dogwood Tree

Watering is crucial for a newly planted Dogwood. It needs at least one inch of water per week. If Mother Nature isn’t providing enough, that’s your cue to step in! Once your Dogwood is established (that takes about a year), it can withstand short periods of drought. But, it’s always best to keep a watering schedule. We try and remember to water our Dogwood Tree in the mornings when we water our other flowers, especially in the summer when we don’t get much rain.

Fertilizing is another important part of Dogwood care. A slow-release, balanced fertilizer in the spring should do the trick. Remember, too much can be harmful, so follow the instructions on the package.

Pruning and Protecting Your Dogwood Tree

Pruning helps your Dogwood grow strong and healthy. The best time to prune is late fall or winter when the tree is dormant. Remove dead or diseased branches first. Then, prune any branches that cross or rub against each other. Henry adds this to his “to-do” list towards the end of fall before we get everything ready for the winter.

Dogwoods are quite resistant, but they can be troubled by pests like borers and diseases like anthracnose. Regular check-ups are essential. If you spot wilting leaves or dying branches, get in touch with your local extension service. They can help identify the issue and suggest a solution.

Enjoy Your Dogwood Tree

Like most shrubs, trees, and plants, a Dogwood Tree takes a bit of work, but trust me, it’s worth it. A well-cared-for Dogwood is a sight to behold and a joy to have in any garden. In spring, it’ll reward you with beautiful blossoms. In the fall, you’ll get a show of colorful foliage. And let’s not forget the red berries that’ll attract all sorts of birds to your garden. Enjoy all the seasons as you watch your Dogwood Tree add beauty to the exterior of your home.

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