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How to Grow and Take Care of Dogwood Trees? Expert Tips!

The Dogwood Tree, also known as Cornus Florida, belongs to the United States.

Its different varieties can be found in almost every state of the country. While some of these trees are shrubs, other varieties are also deciduous trees and evergreens.

Flowering dogwood, native to the state of Virginia, has white and light-yellow flowers that bloom in spring

 

How to Grow and Take Care of Dogwood Trees?

To take care of a dogwood tree, make sure that you have placed them in partial shade, where they get direct sunlight for at least 4-5 hours daily. Soil rich in nutrients, preferably humus, is acidic, and has good drainage is preferred for optimal growth. Mild fertilizer is required once in a while.

How to Grow and Take Care of Dogwood Trees? Expert Tips! 1
How to Grow and Take Care of Dogwood Trees

Dogwood is also commonly known as the Hound’s Tree or the Whipple Tree due to its exceptionally strong hardwood.

This hardwood is sometimes used in expensive walking sticks and handling tools. Although this tree is mainly considered to be ornamental, its different varieties have many other uses.

One of the varieties of the dogwood tree called Cornus Kousa produces sweet fruit, which is vastly used in making tropical puddings.

One variety of the dogwood tree called the Cornus Kousa, produces sweet fruits that are used for tropical puddings
One variety of the dogwood tree called the Cornus Kousa, produces sweet fruits that are used for tropical puddings

Another variety, called Cornus Mas, produces a tart fruit that has a very unique flavor.

Cornus Mas is another variety of the dogwood tree that yields a tart-tasting and uniquely-flavored fruit
Cornus Mas is another variety of the dogwood tree that yields a tart-tasting and uniquely-flavored fruit

Cornus Officinalis has its uses in Chinese medicine (traditional). It is used to treat minor knee and back pains and significant problems such as bleeding in the uterus and bladder incontinence.

If you prefer to grow a dogwood tree with medicinal properties, go for Cornus Officinalis instead
If you prefer to grow a dogwood tree with medicinal properties, go for Cornus Officinalis instead

 

Basic Plant Care

Soil

Dogwood trees love soil that is rich in nutrients. To make your potting soil richer in nutrients, you can add compost or humus to it.

Moreover, the soil should also have an excellent drainage capacity so that the water does not settle in the roots for a long time. This would lead to root rot and other toxic diseases.

The soil must have an acidic pH and should be sandy or loamy.

 

Temperature

Dogwood loves its location with partial shade. Therefore, try to keep it in a spot where it gets half sunlight and half shade so that it can bloom as soon as possible.

The most optimum temperature range in which you should plant dogwood trees is in the USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 9.

 

Sunlight

To prevent sun scalding or burnt leaves, it is best to give dogwood trees at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Dogwood trees thrive in an area that receives 4-5 hours of direct sunlight in a day
Dogwood trees thrive in an area that receives 4-5 hours of direct sunlight in a day

For the rest of the day, it should be kept in the shade so that the chances of crisp leaves are minimized.

 

Water

Because the roots of the dogwood trees are incredibly shallow, it is important to water them regularly so they do not dry out.

Because leaves are highly likely to become crisp in hot weather and moisture will dry out very soon, ensure that you water them every day in hot weather.

You can water it about 2-3 times a week at normal temperatures.

The location of the tree is also crucial in the watering schedule.

Although these trees should be planted where the accessibility of water is high, they should not be planted near areas where the water often becomes stagnant.

This can cause soggy roots, which eventually result in weakened trees over time as the soil is not capable of absorbing essential nutrients due to soggy roots.

 

Fertilizer

If you have planted your dogwood tree in a location where the soil is not naturally nutritious, you may have to give in some extra time and effort to increase the soil quality.

To do so, make a large hole in the ground before adding compost to it.

Once the compost has settled in, put some leaf mulch around the compost so that the soil remains well-fed and the roots are well-protected.

To increase the soil quality where your dogwood tree is planted, you can create a big hole on the ground, add compost, and put leaf mulch
To increase the soil quality where your dogwood tree is planted, you can create a big hole on the ground, add compost, and put leaf mulch

Water your tree well at all times as it loves moisture. To avoid root rot and other problems, make sure the soil sees enough sunlight.

 

Pruning

The best time to prune your dogwood trees is when they’re dormant, which is late in fall or early winter.

Pruning is highly recommended by experts in order to improve the overall health of the tree and eliminate the branches unnecessarily absorbing nutrients.

 

Propagation

Planting a dogwood tree can be tricky at times. You’ll have to find a spot that doesn’t have excess sun and shade.

Although this tree can survive in extremes of both, you want to give it the best location so that it can thrive.

Water also plays a role in where you plant your tree. Because these trees need a lot of water, you want to ensure that there is reasonable water access in the area where you are thinking of planting the tree.

Fall is the best season to plant your tree because it gives the tree enough time to settle in its location before summer comes in with all its scorching heat.

However, if you are unable to plant it in early fall, the second-best time to do it is in spring.

To make the right potting mix for the dogwood tree, mix soil and compost in precisely the same ratio.

Put the root ball on the hole designated for planting, and make sure that it is kept about ¼ above the ground level. Water the root ball generously after placing it in the hole.

Make sure to water thoroughly in the initial phases of the growth as the dogwood trees require a lot of water, especially if planted in hot and dry seasons.

 

Common Problems With Dogwood Trees

 

1. Crown Canker

Phytophthora cactorum, also known as crown canker, is one of the most severe diseases a dogwood tree can develop.

This disease initially manifests itself by reducing the size of the green leaves, shrinking them into a lifeless, faded green. As the condition worsens, the dogwood tree branches will fall off.

This disease becomes severe, especially in dry seasons when the tree does not get sufficient water to sustain itself.

The cause of this disease is a dead region in the lower half of the tree which gradually traps the roots of the entire tree and eventually kills the cambium, a tissue layer responsible for the growth of secondary cells.

When a dogwood tree is infected with the crown canker, its cambium layer dies
When a dogwood tree is infected with the crown canker, its cambium layer dies

The disease is mainly transmitted in the tree by open wounds in the lower region, sun scalds, or bites from insects or animals.

Once infected, it is challenging to prevent the tree from dying. No dogwood tree should be planted in the same spot as a dead one. There are high chances that the new tree will not be able to survive.

 

2. Scorched Leaves

If dogwood trees are allowed to sit in direct exposure to sunlight for an extended period of time, the leaves will soon begin to scorch.

Care must be ensured to keep the tree watered, especially in summers and in dry phases. Otherwise, the leaves may turn brown and crispy, eventually falling off the trees.

 

3. Sunscald

Sunscald in dogwood trees is also commonly known as the ‘southwest injury’ because it typically occurs in the southwest direction of the tree.

It happens when the bark of the tree is exposed to the winter sun for a longer duration of time.

A discolored and deep wound appears on the bark’s outer portion, giving room to many insects and pathogens.

Sunscald may also be followed by cracking and peeling around the region of the bark in hot, dry weather.

 

4. Leaf Spots

Leaf spots, red or purple in color, do not do much harm other than marring the tree’s appearance.

This is more common in wet weather when leaves absorb much more water than usual and develop these unpleasant-looking spots.

The spots should not be confused with dogwood anthracnose canker, which is highly deadly to the tree.

The canker is also known as Discula Destructiva, which produces small poisonous shoots in the lower region of the tree and eventually causes the tree’s death.

 

5. Scale Insects

Scale insects, especially the cottony maple scale, are commonly found feeding on the dogwood leaves.

Scale insects, more commonly known as cottony maple scale, are commonly found feeding on the dogwood tree's leaves
Scale insects, more commonly known as cottony maple scale, are commonly found feeding on the dogwood tree’s leaves

However, scale insects are easy to take care of, as they only need to be flicked away with a pointed knife or a fingernail. Make sure to disinfect the knife after.

Also, to keep these insects away from your tree, regularly wipe the leaves with a light fabric dipped in soap water.

You can also spray them with an effective insecticide.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Grow and Take Care of Dogwood Trees

When should you plant a dogwood tree?

The best time to grow a dogwood tree is in spring because the soil is still moist, and the growing season hasn’t started yet. Plant it in an area not directly exposed to sunlight. Clear any debris from the plantation site, ensuring that you water it regularly in the beginning.

 

Should I use coffee grounds on my Dogwood tree?

Since Dogwood trees are great lovers of acids, you can undoubtedly use coffee grounds on them to increase the soil’s quality and maximize their growth speed. Make sure that you use small portions of coffee grounds on the surface of the soil and water the plant after.

 

What makes a Dogwood tree so special?

The most important thing about Dogwood trees is that they have both female and male reproductive organs. This means they’re capable of self-pollination and producing seeds on their own. Moreover, the Dogwood tree’s fruit is also famous because it is an essential source of food for many bird species.

 

For how long can a Dogwood tree survive?

The Dogwood tree is known to live up to 80 years. This tree shows distinct changes in each season of the year. In spring, it bears flowers, grows foliage in summer, bears fruit in fall, and grows immense branches in winter. You can grow it in the USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9.

 

Why do my Dogwood trees keep dying?

If you think your dogwood trees are showing signs of damage, it can be due to several reasons. Accurately diagnosing the problem means a more effective treatment. Some common reasons for the dogwood tree showing signs of disease are sunscalding, rotten roots, and insufficient water.


 

Conclusion

Dogwoods make up the perfect choice for your garden with their large green leaves and showy white flowers.

Not only are they suitable for the overall appearance of your garden, but they also have specific beneficial properties such as medicinal use and fruit production.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.