4 steps to growing a healthy, flourishing dogwood

4 steps to growing a healthy, flourishing dogwood

From their beautiful white flowers in early spring to their vivid red leaves in the fall, dogwood trees add colour all season long. Here’s the easy way to plant one in your yard.

1. Pick a spot where they’ll shine

  • Dogwoods are native woodland trees that shine in such a setting.
  • Stand them before a forest of dark evergreens, pair them with serviceberry or redbud or underplant them with spring-flowering bulbs.
  • You can also place them in foundation plantings, at the corner of a house or alongside a driveway.
  • Select a site where the roots will be cool and shaded.
  • Dogwoods need a spot with well-drained, acidic soil, where the foliage receives light and good air circulation.

2. Pick a variety

There are many kinds of dogwood trees available. Pick one that will look good and thrive in your region.

  • Flowering dogwood features layers of branches and saucer-like blossoms. They come in a wide variety of colours, from large white flowers to deep red blossoms. It’s hardy from Zone 6.
  • Kousa dogwood is hardy to Zone 6 and blooms later in the season. It has white blossoms with pointed petals and is more tolerant of dry soil.
  • Another variety is the Pacific dogwood, which can reach 15 metres (50 feet). This hefty, pyramidal tree does best in a cool, moist site. Hardy to Zone 7, it needs frequent watering when grown in sun.

3. Plant it in the spring

  • Plant your new dogwood in spring. Set the tree in a hole no deeper than it grew in the nursery container.
  • Water as needed to keep the soil moist during drought.
  • Spread an eight-centimetre-thick (three-inch-thick) layer of leaf mold or other organic mulch over the root zone to conserve water.
  • Dogwoods are slow to develop and bloom, so be patient.

4. Keep it from pests

  • Flowering dogwoods in the wild are prone to anthracnose, a serious fungal disease that causes dark spots to form on leaves and weakens the tree.
  • Dogwoods stressed by dry soil and excessive sun may be attacked by dogwood borers, which girdle trees by chewing small holes in the trunk.
  • Borers, as well as anthracnose, can be prevented by planting dogwoods in partial shade in a spot that’s easy to irrigate.
  • If borers strike, prune off dead branches below borer holes and dispose of them. Give the tree two seasons to regain its strength. Replace a tree that’s obviously dying.
  • Dogwoods require no other pruning and are otherwise maintenance free.

Dogwoods are truly a year-long tree, one that looks great in all four seasons. Relatively easy to care for and available in a wide range of colours and textures, these plants could be a favourite feature in your yard. All they require is a little maintenance and a cool spot to flourish.


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