Dogwood Growing Guide
Cornus species, Cornus florida, Cornus nuttallii, Cornus kousa, Cornus stolonifera, Cornus sericea
Crop Rotation Group
Moist, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost or other organic matter.
Full sun to part shade.
Cold hardiness varies with species, but most dogwoods can tolerate cold to -20°F (-29°C). Pacific dogwood is less cold tolerant, while shrubby red-osier dogwood survives arctic cold but has a low tolerance for summer heat.
None generally needed.
Single Plants: 2' 11" (90cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 2' 11" (90cm) with 2' 11" (90cm) row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Set out purchased plants in spring at about the time of your last frost. Container-grown plants can be transplanted until early summer, but may shed some leaves if set out under stressful conditions. Water young plants regularly, and cover the root zone with an organic mulch to keep the soil moist at all times. Dogwoods become more drought tolerant after the plants are well rooted. The spacing shown is for tightly-grown hedges. However, dogwoods are usually grown as single specimens. When multiple trees are planted, allow 20 feet (6 m) between plants. Space red-osier dogwood 5 feet (1.5 m) apart when planting them as a hedge.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
Native to the southeastern US, flowering dogwood is a multi-talented tree, featuring white or pink spring flowers, red berries, and red autumn color. Many heavy-flowering cultivars are available. Pacific dogwood is a larger tree adapted to the western US. Kousa dogwood, from Asia, blooms later than flowering dogwood, and is more resistant to disease. Many shrubby dogwoods produce berries for wildlife. Red-osier dogwood is especially popular because its branches turn bright red in late winter, providing beautiful contrast against white snow.
Dogwood branches make stunning cut flowers, especially when combined with azaleas and other spring-blooming shrubs. Slow-growing hardwoods, dogwood trees need little pruning beyond trimming off broken or dead branches whenever they appear. Be light-handed when pruning flowering dogwoods, because their natural lateral branching pattern is part of their appeal. Buds for spring’s flowers are present in fall, so avoid pruning in winter.
Powdery mildew can be unsightly, but is often weather related and seldom strikes two years in a row. Dogwood anthracnose causes irregular black spots to form on leaves, and can seriously weaken plants. Resistant varieties are available.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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Pests which Affect Dogwood