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How to Grow Dogwood Trees

Updated on April 26, 2013

How to Grow Beautiful Flowering Dogwood Trees

Flowering Dogwood trees are popular ornamental trees and native to the eastern U.S. Dogwood trees are grown widely for their unique flowers and well known Christian history. Learning how to grow dogwood trees properly will insure a healthy, flourishing tree that will provide beauty in your landscape all year round.

dogwood tree, dogwood tree in bloom
dogwood tree, dogwood tree in bloom

Dogwood Tree Flowers and Foliage

Dogwood trees are commonly grown for their beautiful white, pink or red blossoms and their fall foliage. They begin to blossom in early spring and bloom four weeks strait right up until Easter. Like azaleas, dogwoods are one of the first signs that spring has arrived.

After spring flowering dogwoods continue to produce a lovely display of dark green foliage in the summer which turns to a dark red to purple color in the fall. Shortly after the foliage display the dogwoods will put on small clusters of bright red berries. These berries can be harvested once they mature to collect seeds. Use caution when handling Dogwood berries as they are poisonous.

Dogwood Bloom by James Hawkins

Dogwood Sun Requirements

Dogwoods trees grow best in partially shaded areas. They will thrive in full sun but scorching sun may cause damage to their foliage leaving them less appealing as ornamental trees. Dogwoods can be planted among larger trees to provide a canopy to provide a slightly shaded environment.

Dogwood trees planted in full sun will also require much more watering to prevent scorching aid in preventing scorching.

Pink Dogwood

Pink Dogwood
Pink Dogwood

Dogwood Soil Requirements

Flowering Dogwoods will grow in just about any soil as long as it is well-draining. They prefer fertile soil that is moist and contains organic mulch full of rich nutrients. When planting dogwoods it is best to add plenty of organic matter such as compost and peat moss to the soil. This will provide much needed nutrients and help create a moist environment.

While it is very important to maintain moist soil, do not allow the soil to get soggy. Insure the soil is well draining and does not cause water to puddle up and sit on the roots. Poorly drained soil can cause dogwoods to die.

dogwood tree
dogwood tree

When to Plant Dogwoods

Dogwoods grown in containers can be transplanted anytime during the year with spring being the most optimal. Planting during the summer will require additional watering to prevent shock.

Bareroot and burlap wrapped dogwoods should be transplanted when are dormant. The optimal time to transplant them would be November through December.

When to Water Dogwoods

Dogwoods require plenty of water to thrive. Water deeply at least once a week. Each watering session should be deep enough that the soil is thoroughly wet on the top 6 inches of soil. If you are not sure, scoop back the soil 6 inches and see if it is wet. If not, continue to water. After doing this a few times you will get a general idea of how long it takes to water the tree.

When watering dogwoods not only do you need to water around the base of the tree but also water a few feet out from the trunk. It is best if you can water around the entire canopy. (Water as far out as the tree is wide. If the canopy sticks out 3 feet from the trunk then water the ground from the trunk to three feet away from the trunk.)

To help preserve soil moisture mulch dogwoods heavily. Using pine straw, woods chips or pine bark create a 3 to 6 inch layer of mulch around the entire watering area. This will help prevent moisture loss and help reduce the amount of watering needed.

Red Dogwood Tree

Red Dogwood Tree
Red Dogwood Tree

How to Fertilizer Dogwoods

Dogwoods will benefit from being fertilized a couple times a year. A general purpose fertilizer will do fine as long as you do not over fertilize. Follow the instructions on the label for preparing the fertilizer. Small trees will require very little, whereas larger, well established trees will require much more. It’s best to fertilize in March and July. Avoid over fertilizing in the attempt to promote new growth as you will most likely burn the plant and may seriously injure or kill it.

How to Prune Dogwoods

Dogwoods require very little pruning. The only pruning required is for shaping and the removal of dead or diseased wood. Suckers and side shoots should be pruned to keep dogwoods visually appealing and to promote growth.

What is Your Favorite Dogwood?

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How to Propagate Dogwoods

Dogwoods are best propagated through seeds. Seeds can be collected from the berries that form in the winter. Once the berries are collected, clean the pulp from the exterior of the seeds. Wash thoroughly and plant immediately.

Dogwood trees require breaking double dormancy which means the seeds need to be warm, cold and warm again before they will sprout. The soon you get them planted and they are allowed to warm up the sooner the process will be started.

You can sow them directly out doors in pots or flats. Lightly cover with peat moss and keep soil moist at all times but not soggy. Allow the seeds to go through the fall winter and into the spring. They should sprout shortly after spring arrives and the temperatures start to warm up. Some seeds will require a 2nd year of stratifying if the seeds don’t break dormancy the first year.

Dogwoods are very slow growing and will require patience. Allow the seedlings to become well established before planting in the ground to avoid frost damage. Mulch well and keep soil moist to prevent drought and winter damage.

Dogwoods can be propagated from cuttings though it is very uncommon and some insist that it can’t be done. Cuttings require very specific methods along with the perfect temperatures and humidity. Most nurseries start dogwoods from seeds alone due to how hard it can be to grow from cuttings.

Dogwood Trees on eBay

eBay is a great place to find thousands of plants and trees including dogwood trees. You can find white, pink and red dogwood trees on eBay from both hobby gardeners and commercial growers.

Dogwood Diseases and Pests

Dogwoods often come under attack from dogwood borers. Damage caused to the bark will invite a host of dogwood borer larvae which can take over a full grown tree and kill it rather quickly.

Spot anthracnose and dogwood anthracnose are the most common diseases and should be identified by your local extension who can also advise you of how to treat it in your region.

Spring Dogwood by NEAL FLOYD

Flowering Dogwood

flowering dogwood tree
flowering dogwood tree

Photo By: Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester, PA.

Share your comments, tips and ideas for growing dogwood trees.

What Do You Think About Dogwoods Trees?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My favorite dogwoods are the California native ones that grow among the Big Trees in Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. Their blossoms are so delicate looking next to the red bark of those giant trees.

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Dogwoods are perfect for anyone wanting a variety of color to enjoy.

    • vegetablegardenh profile image


      6 years ago

      I've always loved dogwoods, but don't have them where I live now. They sure are beautiful. Nice lens!

    • SoSimplyStephanie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

      @Cari Kay 11: Cari It gets hot here in Florida but mine do well and they grow wild like crazy around here. Have you ever tried to plant them in the shade? Not so much full shade but with a larger tree or two near by to shade the sun? Just an idea...that and plenty of water!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      6 years ago

      We tried to grow dogwoods in California but I think our hot summers caused their demise. They are just beautiful though and one of my favorite trees! Very nice page.


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