How you can Develop and Take care of Flowering Dogwood Bushes

Cornus florida

Because the state tree of Missouri, the flowering dogwood means rather a lot to me.

I’m a long-time resident of the “Present-Me” state, and I can say with confidence that this decorative tree is certainly value displaying.

Beautiful leaves, lovely blooms, and a captivating kind all mix to make Cornus florida a sight to behold, regardless of the time of 12 months.

A close up vertical image of the white flowers of a dogwood tree (Cornus florida) pictured in light sunshine on a blue sky background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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This unhealthy boy isn’t the trickiest plant to deal with, both.

Certain, you’ll must be further vigilant to make sure that it doesn’t develop into sick or infested with pests. However so long as a flowering dogwood is saved wholesome, being its plant mother or father is clean crusing.

After all, correct cultivation takes some specialised information… which is why we put collectively this rising information for you!

After studying it, you’ll have the know-how wanted to develop and look after some actually superior timber.

Right here’s a fast preview of every little thing this information will educate you:

What Are Flowering Dogwoods?

Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is native to the japanese half of Mexico and america, and southeastern Canada.

It’s a member of the Cornaceae household and the Cornus genus – each of that are basically synonymous with dogwoods.

A horizontal image of a pathway through a stand of trees with a white flowering dogwood to the left of the frame.

The widespread time period “flowering dogwood” can also be used to check with different dogwood timber that put out beautiful flowerlike leaf bracts, such because the kousa dogwood and pagoda dogwood.

However in relation to lovely blooms, C. florida is the champ.

With a mature top of 15 to 35 ft and a width of 15 to 40 ft on the cover, this understory tree has higher branches that develop upright, whereas the decrease branches unfold out extra horizontally.

This creates an attention-grabbing layered impact that emphasizes the branching behavior, moderately than the trunk.

The plant’s grey, scaly bark that some may evaluate to alligator pores and skin peels simply, but the wooden beneath is robust and sturdy.

The genus title Cornus – from the Latin “cornu” which means “laborious” – is a nod to the wooden’s toughness.

The foliage is oppositely organized and every leaf is oval-shaped, narrowing to a pointed finish. Alternating veins originate from the midrib and meet on the tip of every leaf. The undersides of the leaves are pale, and the margins are barely wavy.

Colour-wise, the leaves emerge in shades of bronze-green to yellow-green in spring, mature to a darkish inexperienced in summer season, and rework to disclose crimson to reddish-purple hues come autumn.

This plant is definitely one of many first deciduous timber within the panorama to showcase its fall colours, which persist till the leaves drop in early winter.

The flowers are what actually set C. florida other than different panorama timber. It’s proper there in each the widespread title and the Latin species title florida, which means “flowery” or “in bloom.”

However this does include a notable technicality: much like poinsettias or bougainvillea, the precise flowers aren’t the show-stoppers – moderately, the adjoining petal-like leaf bracts are.

A close up horizontal image of the white flowers of Cornus florida aka flowering dogwood, pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

The true flowers are yellowish-green, tiny, and crowded collectively in an insignificant mass that lacks showiness.

4 leaf bracts lie beneath the flowers, every formed like a top-heavy egg with a notable rose- or maroon-shaded notch at its apex.

The bracts are white in the usual species, however some cultivars characteristic golden-yellow, crimson, or pink hues.

Rising in mid-spring, the flowers are pollinated by butterflies and mining bees, and later give method to clusters of shiny crimson drupes, which birds, rabbits, deer, and even black bears discover fairly tasty. Rabbits and deer additionally browse the tree for its leaves and twigs.

However to all Homo sapiens studying this, don’t get any concepts – the fruits are toxic to people.

Cultivation and Historical past

Native Individuals handled colic and fevers utilizing an infusion of C. florida flowers, and likewise used the roots to make crimson dye.

English colonists despatched crops again to England in 1722 however they didn’t reply properly to the native local weather. Some sources say one in every of these took 40 years to flower!

A close up horizontal image of the branch of a dogwood tree festooned with white flowers pictured on a soft focus background.

As soon as a forest species, flowering dogwood was introduced into the panorama as a decorative tree by the 1730s. Notably, United States presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew C. florida on their properties.

Throughout the Civil Struggle, C. florida bark was utilized in tea and compound tinctures as an alternative to quinine, which was troublesome to come back by.

Makes use of for the wooden embrace crafting archery bows, golf membership heads, jeweler’s containers, butcher blocks, and power handles.

A horizontal image of a single white flowering dogwood tree growing beside a pathway in a park with wooden benches in the background.

Within the Seventies, dogwood anthracnose was first reported within the States, which resulted in considerably diminished native dogwood populations.

In 1988, a gaggle made up of state and federal representatives was fashioned who meet yearly to debate the development of and present analysis on the illness.

Since then, horticulturalists have bred and cultivated a lot of resistant varieties.

The flowering dogwood was named the state tree of Missouri in 1955 and of Virginia in 1956, and the state flower of North Carolina in 1941.

It’s a beloved decorative planting in house gardens and landscapes.


You may propagate C. florida by way of seed, stem cuttings, and transplanting.

You can too use layering or grafting strategies, however for the common house gardener, it’s simpler to stay with the primary three strategies.

From Seed

To gather seeds, decide fruits after they’re ripe in August – just lately fallen seeds are basically assured to be ripe.

A close up horizontal image of the tiny red berry of a flowering dogwood pictured on a soft focus background.

To separate the seeds from the fruit, some growers advocate wrapping duct tape across the blades of a blender, mixing up the fruits, and washing away the loosened flesh by rinsing the seeds in a sieve.

Instantly following cleansing, the seeds will should be stratified.

Put the seeds in a plastic baggie full of damp peat moss, seal it, and place the baggie within the fridge for 120 days. All of the whereas, be certain to maintain the moss moist.

After stratification, fill well-draining four-inch pots with a 50-50 combination of sphagnum peat moss and perlite.

Pots will be costly, however even punching a few small holes within the bottoms of plastic SOLO cups will do the trick.

Moisten the soil, then bury every seed half an inch deep in its personal pot. Set the pots on a sunny indoor windowsill the place they may obtain oblique mild.

Maintain the soil moist, preserve indoor temperatures of 70 to 80°F, and repot as wanted to keep away from root bindage.

As soon as August rolls round once more, the seedlings must be prepared for hardening off.

Transfer the pots outdoors to an space with full or partial solar for thirty to sixty minutes earlier than bringing them again inside.

Every following day, add an extra half to full hour of publicity till the seedlings can deal with a full day outdoor, after which they’ll be prepared for transplanting!

From Stem Cuttings

Earlier than you start, fill a seed-starting tray with a 50:50 mixture of moist peat moss and perlite.

In early summer season, take four-inch cuttings with a sterile blade from the ideas of wholesome, semi-hardwood stems.

Take away the leaves from the underside inch of every chopping and dip the reduce ends in a rooting hormone, resembling Bontone II IBA rooting powder from Bonide.

A close up of a bottle of Bonide Bontone II Rooting Powder isolated on a white background.

Bonide Bontone II IBA Rooting Powder

It’s accessible from Arbico Organics.

Stick the hormone-powdered ends of every chopping about an inch deep into the peat and perlite combine in your tray, ensuring to area them a few inches aside.

Place the tray close to a sunny window, and preserve the media across the cuttings moist.

A close up horizontal image of the white flowers of a Cornus florida surrounded by green foliage in soft focus.

In six to eight weeks, give the cuttings a mild tug to check for sturdy root growth. Every rooted chopping will be repotted in its personal four-inch container.

As soon as new leaves kind, the cuttings are able to be moved into a chilly body outdoors.

As a result of dogwood cuttings take a few seasons to develop winter hardiness, it’s greatest to maintain them in a hotbed or heated chilly body for the following two years, repotting as mandatory and adjusting the temperature as wanted – don’t let it drop under freezing or rise excessive sufficient to cook dinner the crops!

As soon as they’re sufficiently hardened off to outside circumstances, it’s time to transplant them into the backyard.

Through Transplanting

Obtained transplants? The very best instances for transplanting are late fall and early spring.

Come transplanting time, put together patches of fertile backyard soil with a pH of 5.5 to six.5.

Area these websites not less than 20 ft aside and a minimum of six ft away from close by buildings or crops, and ensure they’re located in partial shade to full solar.

A horizontal image of a young dogwood tree growing in a park-like setting.
Editorial credit score: Jon Kraft /

Dig holes of the identical depth and a bit wider than the foundation methods of your transplants.

Construct up a mound of soil in the midst of the outlet. Decrease the transplants in one after the other, unfold their roots over the mound, backfill with soil, and water them in.

Add two to 4 inches of mulch – resembling pine straw or shredded leaves – to the foundation zone and preserve constant soil moisture.

It’s essential to ensure the foundation flare isn’t lined by both mulch or soil. Whether it is, then return and uncover it.

How you can Develop

For optimum well being and aesthetics, it’s greatest to offer your flowering dogwood the precise circumstances that it wants.

Local weather and Publicity Wants

C. florida performs greatest in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. As an understory tree, it loves partial shade, however it may well additionally deal with a fan of full solar publicity fairly properly at maturity if it’s saved correctly hydrated.

A horizontal image of an American goldfinch on the branch of a dogwood tree surrounded by foliage and flowers pictured on a soft focus background.

Leaf scorch can happen when circumstances are too dry, so a component shade location must be offered when you want to play it protected.

As soon as your timber have reached maturity, don’t fear about wind or storm harm, the flowering dogwood is a troublesome specimen.

Soil Wants

As is the case with many crops, well-draining soil is crucial for C. florida, together with a good stage of soil fertility and the 5.5 to six.5 pH vary talked about above.

Soil compaction is one other situation that this tree tolerates properly, which is helpful when you’re working with heavy soils.

Water and Fertilizer Wants

Ideally, it’s best to preserve even soil moisture whereas avoiding oversaturation.

This generally is a high quality line to tread, so err on the facet of warning in relation to irrigation – assume minimal efficient dose, moderately than most tolerable quantity.

A helpful irrigation prescription is to water each time the highest inch of soil feels dry.

Maintain soil fertility up by working a pair inches of well-rotted manure or compost into the foundation zone each spring.

Rising Ideas

  • Develop in a component shade location.
  • Present well-draining soil with a pH stage of 5.5 to six.5.
  • Maintain the soil moist, however not saturated.

Pruning and Upkeep

Broken, diseased, or useless branches must be pruned everytime you discover them, however extra thorough bouts of pruning must be an annual observe, performed simply previous to the emergence of recent progress in spring.

A horizontal image of a dogwood tree growing in the garden.

Throughout these annual pruning classes, give attention to eradicating crossing or rubbing branches, watersprouts/suckers, and any obtrusive branches that hinder inter-canopy airflow… however don’t take away greater than a 3rd of the tree in a single go!

Don’t fear about shaping the shape or behavior – a flowering dogwood seems to be higher au naturel.

Sustaining the mulch layer you added upon transplanting with contemporary materials is efficient for preserving soil moisture, regulating soil temperature, and stopping weed progress.

As a deciduous tree, C. florida will drop its leaves every year, which can should be raked up. One cool factor about fallen Cornus foliage, although, is its speedy decomposition.

Flowering dogwood leaves, for instance, are 10 instances faster to decompose than oak leaves. Any raked-up and shredded leaves from wholesome specimens would make for an ideal mulch or composting materials!

Rake up and get rid of fallen leaves in case your prime precedence is illness prevention, as pathogens can reside on in leaf detritus.

Cultivars to Choose

An everyday ol’ flowering dogwood is already fairly spectacular.

You will discover a four- to five-foot potted C. florida specimen at

A square image of a white flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) growing in the landscape pictured on a blue sky background.

Flowering Dogwood

For seeds, the CZ Grain Retailer sells 20-packs of white-flowering C. florida seeds on Amazon.

However maybe you’re after a sure trait that the usual species lacks. In that case, you’re in luck – there are greater than 100 cultivars to select from.

Listed below are my private favorites.

Appalachian Spring

The flowering dogwood is thought for lots of issues, however illness resistance isn’t one in every of them.

Nonetheless, ‘Appalachian Spring’ is the exception: it’s almost impervious to Discula destructiva, a very nasty pathogen that you simply’ll study shortly.

It additionally packs some severe magnificence inside its upright 20- to 30-foot-tall body, with overlapping white flower bracts and gorgeously crimson fall hues.

So sure, it may well dish out the aesthetics and take the anthracnose.

Cherokee Chief

Whereas the opposite three cultivars described right here have white flowers – a mirrored image of my very own aesthetic bias – ‘Cherokee Chief’ is a wonderful exception.

A close up horizontal image of the bright pink flowers of a Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

The leaf bracts of ‘Cherokee Chief’ are just about the inverse of the usual species’: ruby-red, with white notches at their apex.

There’s a little bit of extra white on the bract bases, which creates a white “aura” of types that attracts the attention to the greenish true flowers on the heart.

Reaching a top of 20 to 25 ft and a width of 12 to 18 ft, this cultivar is extra upright than the usual species plant. A show of pleasure, maybe?

A square image of a pink-flowering Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' tree growing in a formal garden.

‘Cherokee Chief’ sells ‘Cherokee Chief’ in two- to three- or four- to five-foot sizes.

Cherokee Princess

However maybe you’re content material with a white flowering dogwood. In that case, ‘Cherokee Princess’ is just an enchancment upon the unique.

A horizontal image of trees growing next to a pathway in a park with a lake in the background and wooden bench to the right of the frame.
Editorial credit score: Jon Kraft /

This tree emerges early in spring, even for a flowering dogwood.

Moreover, the white blooms of this selection attain 5 inches in diameter – an inch or two wider than customary.

At a mature top and width of 20 ft, it’s additionally resistant to identify anthracnose and canker.

A constant champion of C. florida cultivar evaluations, ‘Cherokee Princess’ emerges from dormancy earlier, flowers extra closely, and produces wider bracts than the usual – C. florida 2.0, if you’ll.

A close up square image of the white flower of Cornus florida 'Cherokee Princess' growing in the garden.

‘Cherokee Princess’

You will discover ‘Cherokee Princess’ in #5 containers accessible from Nature Hills Nursery.

Cloud 9

Can’t get sufficient flowers? With the ‘Cloud 9’ cultivar rising in your panorama, you’ll be on cloud 9.

Reaching a top and width of 15 to twenty ft, the white bracts of ‘Cloud 9’ develop extra densely than is typical, to the purpose of overlapping with one another. This selection additionally has a slower progress fee than the species plant.

Together with canker resistance, ‘Cloud 9’ has a larger tolerance for ice, snow, and chilly temperatures than different flowering dogwoods.

In case you’re positioned simply on the border of Zone 5 – or stunned by the occasional unusually harsh winter – then ‘Cloud 9’ is the right selection.

A square image of Cornus florida 'Cloud 9' growing in the landscape pictured on a blue sky background.

‘Cloud 9’

You will discover ‘Cloud 9’ accessible from

Managing Pests and Illness

All of the splendor of a flowering dogwood doesn’t imply squat if the plant is wracked with illness or infestation.

And sadly for C. florida, it’s vulnerable to an infection or harm brought on by quite a lot of pathogens and pests.


Within the wild, a flowering dogwood attracts quite a lot of plant-eating mammals to its tasty fruits, leaves, and/or twigs.

There are a pair for the house gardener to be looking out for:


Your greatest protection towards deer? A “D-fence.”… and the “D” stands for deer.

Certainly, a deer fence round your property will preserve your panorama shielded from any cervid-chomping.

Moreover, sprays of deer repellent round inclined plantings will additional deter Bambi from feasting.

Enviro Professional Deer Repellent

In want of assets? We’ve acquired deer fencing and deer management guides so that you can learn, and Enviro Professional sells six-pound tubs of granular deer repellent by way of Amazon.


Identical to deer, rabbits will browse the leaves and twigs of C. florida, if given the possibility.

Take away mentioned likelihood with a fringe of hen wire or {hardware} material.

Erect it two to 3 ft in top, and bury it two to 3 inches under the bottom round every plant to forestall sub-surface tunneling.

A close up of a roll of fencing mesh isolated on a white background.

Galvanized Fencing Wire

Want some fencing? These galvanized rolls of fencer wire from Dwelling Depot ought to meet your wants simply high quality.


Retaining creepy-crawlies from consuming your Cornus will prevent some strife on the illness entrance, since bugs may vector pathogens.


Aka Synanthedon scitula, dogwood borers are the larval type of a wasp-like clearwing moth that lays its eggs in bark wounds and openings.

After they hatch, the larvae feed on the inside bark and cambium, which may result in department loss of life, decreased vigor, and even the loss of life of the complete tree… particularly in case your tree is younger.

Including insult to damage, infested leaves can redden and drop early.

Correct cultivation will assist shore up any bark openings that the moths may lay eggs in. Keep away from pointless damage by being cautious along with your mowing, pruning, and string trimming.

Functions of permethrin in early Could, repeated at three-week intervals till fall, will support management. Goal the trunk, main branches, and any bark wounds along with your spray.

Bushes infested past restore must be eliminated and disposed of.

Membership Gall Midges

The dogwood membership gall midge (Resseliella clavula) is a small fly measuring a sixteenth of an inch in size.

Feminine adults lay their eggs in terminal leaves, which hatch, enter the shoots, and start feeding.

Small galls kind in response, which kills any portion of the stem past the gall.

Come fall, the larvae exit the gall and drop to the bottom to overwinter. Together with the galls, leaf wilt and deformation are each noticeable signs.

Gentle infestations aren’t a giant concern, however heavy infestations can stunt progress. If you discover galls, take away and burn the twigs on which they reside.


The first symptom of a Macremphytus tarsatus infestation is partially to utterly consumed foliage, which is eaten by these pests of their larval stage.

A close up horizontal image of dogwood sawfly larvae making a mess of foliage.

Younger larvae are coated in a powdery white wax, whereas mature larvae are yellow, with black spots or crossing stripes. Defoliation can result in well being points for the plant.

Start to observe for these pests in early July, and manually take away any larvae that you simply see. Sprays of horticultural oil – utilized in keeping with package deal instructions – might help with heavier infestations.


Using sterile instruments, planting in disease-free soils, and choosing crops free from sickness will all assist to forestall the unfold of pathogens that would severely wreck your C. florida.


Often known as Discula anthracnose, this illness is brought on by Discula destructiva fungi, a reputation that’s forebodingly ominous. And for good purpose – to a Cornus, anthracnose is virtually The Black Loss of life.

Preliminary signs seem in spring as spots on the leaves and leaf bracts, which work their approach up the tree. Contaminated foliage develops purple-edged tan spots, massive blotches, and dry brown margins, which may blight the leaves and trigger drooping.

The an infection additionally causes cankers on the stems, branches, and trunk, finally girdling and killing the tree.

To stop an infection, plant resistant cultivars resembling ‘Appalachian Spring.’ Take away and pitch any water sprouts, useless branches, and fallen leaves, potential overwintering websites for the fungi.

Bettering air circulation by way of pruning may also decrease the percentages of an infection, and spraying new buds, leaves, and shoots with accredited, anthracnose-targeting fungicides in early spring will assist to guard your tree.

Make sure to rotate fungicides to keep away from fungal resistance towards anyone kind.

Cankered branches must be eliminated as you discover them. If that doesn’t enhance an contaminated tree’s well being, it’s best to most likely excavate and get rid of the specimen.

Fungal Leaf Spot

Leaf spot in flowering dogwood could also be brought on by Cercospora cornicola fungi and species of Septoria.

An infection primarily happens through the moist summer season months.

Each sorts of fungi trigger small, irregularly-shaped spots bordered by leaf veins. Cercospora spots are tannnish-brown, whereas Septoria spots are a darker brown.

Fungal leaf spot gained’t kill the tree, nevertheless it actually gained’t assist its seems to be. Cleansing up fallen leaves promptly will assist with prevention, whereas extra extreme infections will be managed with fungicides.

Powdery Mildew

Attributable to the fungus Erysiphe pulchra, powdery mildew covers higher leaf and shoot surfaces with a high quality white powder.

Further signs embrace marginal leaf scorch, reddish discoloration, yellowing, and untimely leaf drop. Infections aren’t deadly, however all of those signs can influence the plant’s magnificence.

For prevention, get rid of close by fallen leaves, take away contaminated tissues, and prune to enhance air circulation.

Cultivars from the Appalachian sequence together with ‘Pleasure,’ ‘Blush,’ ‘Snow,’ and ‘Mist’ all present resistance towards powdery mildew.

Fungicides resembling myclobutanil and propiconazole – utilized in keeping with instructions on the label or by knowledgeable arborist – work for management.

Greatest Makes use of

Whether or not planted individually or as a part of a small grouping, flowering dogwood seems to be superior as a specimen planting.

It presents multiseason visible curiosity with distinctive aesthetics all year long: spectacular spring blooms, lush summer season leaves, colourful fall foliage, and an attention-grabbing branching behavior to take pleasure in throughout in any other case barren winters.

A horizontal image of a path through a forest with a flowering dogwood in the foreground.

As a mid-size understory tree that may survive simply high quality out within the open, C. florida is flexible within the panorama.

It seems to be proper at house in woodland and native gardens, and suits in areas the place bigger timber gained’t.

For followers of fauna in addition to flora, C. florida attracts pollinators with its flowers, whereas its fruits entice birds and numerous mammals.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Kind: Deciduous flowering tree Flower/Foliage Colour: Inexperienced, gold-yellow, pink, white/darkish inexperienced (crimson to reddish-purple in fall)
Native to: Southeastern Canada, japanese United States and Mexico Water Wants: Average
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 5-9 Upkeep: Average
Bloom Time: Spring Tolerance Compacted soil, fireplace, juglone, storm harm, wind
Publicity: Half shade to full solar Soil Kind: Moist, fertile
Time to Maturity: 6 years Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Spacing: 20 ft aside, 6 ft from buildings Soil Drainage: Effectively-draining
Planting Depth: 1/2 inch (seeds), depth of root system (transplants) Attracts: Birds, butterflies, mammals, mining bees
Peak: 15-35 ft Makes use of: Fowl gardens, groupings, native gardens, specimens, woodland gardens
Unfold: 15-40 ft Household: Cornaceae
Progress Fee: Sluggish (juvenile), reasonable (established) Genus: Cornus
Widespread Pests and Ailments: Dogwood borer, dogwood membership gall midge, dogwood sawfly; dogwood anthracnose, fungal leaf spot, powdery mildew Species: Florida

A Dogwood Pun? However Wouldn’t That Be Cornus?

I’m sorry, however I needed to.

In any case, now you may develop the flowering dogwood! It’s beautiful, versatile, and although it could put your plant well being care expertise to the check, most would agree it’s well worth the hassle.

A close up horizontal image of a white flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) growing in the landscape pictured in light sunshine.

Plus, it’s a bit of slice of marvelous Missouri that you would be able to put in your panorama… which, I’ll admit, I say with a heavy bias.

Any questions or remarks about rising this tree can go into the feedback part under!

All in favour of rising another panorama timber? Then have at these right here guides:

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