How you can Develop and Take care of Dogwoods

Cornus spp.

Searching for stunning, fascinating crops that amaze, astound, and astonish? Sounds such as you’re in want of a dogwood or two.

It’s uncommon for crops to have enticing leaves, bark, flowers, fruits, and types. For many crops, normally a minimum of a kind of qualities is taken into account aesthetically meh, if not bleh.

Not dogwoods, although – these have a score of 5 stars just about throughout the board.

A vertical shot of a beautiful blooming dogwood tree, with green and white text superimposed over the top and bottom of the image.

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And despite the fact that they’re metaphorically and actually overshadowed by bigger timber, understory species like dogwoods have their deserves. For a gardener seeking to pepper their panorama with fairly ornamentals that don’t dwarf their house, Cornus species have rather a lot to supply.

So strap your self in, pricey reader. We’ll be discussing easy methods to domesticate these beautiful crops and easy methods to greatest use them in your panorama. We’ll additionally cowl a handful of our favourite species.

Right here’s what we’ll be moving into:

What Are Dogwoods?

Containing 57 at the moment acknowledged species of timber, shrubs, subshrubs, and even perennial floor covers, the Cornus genus is a part of the Cornaceae household together with its sister genus Alangium.

Collectively hardy in USDA Zones 2 to 10, species of Cornus are distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America.

In america, you possibly can just about discover a species of dogwood in any area of the nation, save for the most popular and driest of climates.

A horizontal image of a flowering red dogwood growing in a sunny outdoor landscape.

Taxonomists have recognized 4 clades throughout the genus: blue- or white-fruited varieties, big-bract varieties, dwarf varieties, and cornelian cherries, although these descriptions are seldom utilized by gardeners or horticulturalists.

The title Cornus comes from the Latin phrase cornu, that means “onerous” – a reference to the tremendous dense and fine-grained wooden of dogwood species.

Talking of frequent Cornus traits, let’s go over what dogwoods typically appear to be.

Most species have easy, ovate, deciduous, and oppositely organized leaves with parallel, arching leaf veins. A wealthy inexperienced or variegated through the rising season, these leaves have a tendency to show a deep burgundy purple in fall.

A horizontal shot of the red-colored autumn leaves of a Cornus sanguinea specimen.

Anytime from late winter to early summer season, Cornus species bloom with flowers which have buildings in fours: 4 lobes, 4 petals, and 4 stamens.

The flowers themselves aren’t all that showy, however they’re encased in the course of 4 to 6 petal-like leaf bracts which may be purple, inexperienced, gold, yellow, pink, and/or white, relying on the species or cultivar.

Once they’re in full bloom, dogwoods entice many pollinating bugs, from bees to butterflies to moths. After pollination, the flowers give option to purple, bluish-black, or white drupes, which magnetize hungry birds and mammals.

A horizontal image of the fruits and leaves of a Cornus sanguinea shrub growing outdoors.

Together with spreading by way of seed dispersal, dogwood species can increase by way of underground rhizomes and even by rooting the information of decrease branches.

Dogwoods are available many various sizes, relying on the species.

Some, like the bottom cowl C. canadensis, prime out at simply 4 inches tall and unfold just about indefinitely.

Others, just like the red-stemmed C. sericea or its yellow-stemmed cultivars, are your moderately-sized, stereotypical shrubs. Different tree-like species can attain heights of 45 toes and spreads of 40 toes in cultivation!

Cultivation and Historical past

Dogwoods have a wealthy historical past of cultivation, and the origin of the distinctly distinctive and fascinating title can’t be mentioned with a slam-dunk surety.

The title “dogwood” is assumed to come back from a colonial description of flowering dogwood fruits being edible, but the style not being match for a canine. The onerous, powerful wooden was additionally used for establishing skewers – i.e. “canine” – in order that could possibly be the reason, too. Take your decide!

A horizontal closeup of a dogwood's beautiful white blossoms growing outdoors in the sun.

The wooden has been used throughout many cultures for establishing weapons, software handles, loom shuttles, golf membership heads, jeweler’s bins, butcher blocks, and lots of different objects that want to have the ability to face up to robust hits and excessive forces with out taking harm.

Not all Cornus fruits are really useful for human consumption, however amongst these which might be, some are fairly tasty!

The cornelian cherry (C. mas) specifically has discovered some fame because the tastiest of the dogwood fruits, and is utilized in scrumptious candy treats to this present day.

A horizontal image of a traditional Georgian pumpkin and dogwood dessert served in a glass on a wooden plate alongside other foods, all on a wooden table indoors.

It was additionally used again in Historical Greece and Rome to dye fezzes, deal with dysentery, and relieve gastrointestinal stress – and has even been talked about within the literature of Homer and Ovid!

Many different species have had quite a lot of functions all through historical past.

Extracts from the leaves of the Pagoda dogwood (C. alternifolia) have been utilized in conventional Chinese language drugs as an analgesic, a diuretic, and a tonic.

Native People used elements of the flowering dogwood to deal with colic and fevers, and even to make purple dye. Throughout the American Civil Battle, the tree’s leaves got here in helpful for making tea and as an alternative choice to quinine in compound tinctures.

And naturally, dogwoods are beloved on this planet of decorative landscaping… that’s most likely why you’re right here, in any case.

Dogwood Propagation

Many dogwood species will be grown from seed or propagated from cuttings.

It’s also possible to buy nursery begins and saplings to transplant into the backyard. Let’s go over these strategies, so as of descending problem.

However simply as a reminder, there are a lot of completely different dogwoods on the market, so the next ideas are stored deliberately normal.

From Seed

First issues first: you’ll want seeds. These will be purchased from a good vendor, acquired from a pal, and even gathered your self.

To assemble seeds, you’ll first want to reap the fruits they develop in, after they’re ripe. To make sure ripeness, solely collect the fruits as soon as they’ve dropped to the bottom.

Once you’ve gathered the fruits, you’ll have to mash them as much as extract the seeds. You are able to do this by hand, with a mortar and pestle, or you possibly can even use a blender.

A horizontal closeup of Cornus mas seeds sitting on a white surface.

Take away the seeds from the mashed fruits, set them on a strainer, and rinse off the pulp with water. It’s also possible to put the seeds in water, which can separate the pulp naturally. This will even separate viable seeds from non-viable ones, as the great seeds will sink and the duds will float.

You may both sow your Cornus seeds outside instantly in fall, or cold-stratify them earlier than sowing in spring. To stratify, partially fill a plastic baggie with a 50:50 mixture of peat moss and perlite, stick the seeds in, moisten the media, and depart the baggie within the fridge till spring.

Come spring, place the seeds half an inch deep in a seed tray full of an analogous peat/perlite combine, moisten the media, and set the container subsequent to a sunny indoor window. Present even moisture, however don’t enable the soil to turn into waterlogged.

When the seeds germinate and develop into seedlings, skinny them out and/or repot them as wanted to provide them sufficient room to develop, all of the whereas protecting the soil moist.

A horizontal closeup of water droplets on an outdoor dogwood twig.

After they attain an acceptable measurement – about three to 4 inches in peak – they’ll be large enough to maneuver outside.

When the ultimate frost date passes, you’ll have to harden off the seedlings earlier than transplanting. To do that, take the containers outdoors for 30 to 60 minutes earlier than bringing them again inside.

Every subsequent day, add a further half to full hour of out of doors time till they will spend a full day outside. From right here, you possibly can transplant!

From Cuttings

Anytime through the summer season months, take four- to six-inch cuttings of softwood to semi-hardwood shoot tissue, relying on the species you might be propagating.

Take these cuttings from the distal – or terminal – ends of shoots, and make your cuts with a pointy and sterile blade.

Defoliate the underside half of every reducing, and dip the minimize ends in a little bit of IBA rooting hormone to assist with root formation.

If you happen to don’t have any rooting hormone powder, yow will discover Bonide Bontone II accessible from Arbico Organics.

A vertical image of a purple and white bottle of Bonide's IBA rooting powder.

Bonide Bontone II Rooting Hormone

Put together a three- to four-inch container full of a 50:50 mixture of peat and perlite for every reducing, then stick mentioned cuttings in, two to a few inches deep. Moisten the media and place the containers subsequent to a sunny window indoors.

Hold the media moist because the cuttings take root. When the cuttings have rooted and grown a few new leaves, they are going to be able to harden off such as you would with seedlings earlier than transplanting.

By way of Transplanting

Earlier than you transplant, be certain that your planting web site has the correct publicity in your chosen species. Moreover, just be sure you’re transplanting into wealthy, loamy, and well-draining soil with a pH of 5.0 to eight.0.

Whether or not you’re transplanting a seedling, a rooted reducing, or a nursery begin, be certain that your planting web site offers sufficient room for the transplant to achieve its mature peak and unfold with out bumping into buildings, walkways, or different crops.

The perfect transplanting occasions are spring, after the final frost, and fall, a few weeks earlier than your common first frost date.

Seedlings and rooted cuttings merely want a transplant gap that’s massive sufficient to accomodate their root techniques.

For container crops from the nursery, you’ll have to make the outlet a bit wider than the containers they arrive in, so you may have room to work.

Gently take away the plant from its container, and set it within the gap. Backfill with soil, and water in effectively.

Naked root specimens ought to be soaked in water for a number of hours earlier than transplanting. As soon as it’s time, dig a gap, make a mound of soil on the backside, and unfold the roots out over it.

A horizontal image of potted dogwood starts in front of balled-and-burlapped arbovitae plants at an outdoor plant nursery.

Alternate backfilling with watering till the outlet is crammed in, give it one ultimate watering, and also you’re completed!

Including a little bit of natural matter like compost to the soil you backfill with can present your soil with some further fertility to get your transplants off to a great begin.

To your child transplants, actually keep on prime of watering till they turn into established in a yr or two.

How you can Develop Dogwoods

All of the completely different dogwood species have rather a lot in frequent by way of their rising wants. For catch-all Cornus cultivation, let’s go over what works.

Local weather and Publicity Wants

If you happen to’re anyplace in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to 10, there’s a dogwood species for you – however not all Cornus species are appropriate for all Zones.

Basically, dogwoods thrive in full solar to partial shade, relying on the species, and a few can tolerate full shade.

It’s all about discovering that good stability between simply sufficient solar to induce flowering, with out scorching the leaves.

Soil Wants

Wealthy, well-draining loam with a pH of 5.0 to eight.0 ought to serve your specimens effectively as they develop and mature. You may conduct a soil take a look at to examine if the soil in your backyard wants any particular amendments.

A horizontal closeup of Cornus canadensis, in front of a blurred forest background.

You’ll have to make some species-specific changes, however since dogwoods can typically deal with most soils so long as they aren’t bone-dry or soggy, don’t sweat this an excessive amount of.

Common amendments of natural matter assist maintain soil wealthy, so work one to 2 inches of compost or well-rotted manure into your crops’ root zones each spring.

Water and Fertilizer Wants

Many Cornus species favor a soil that’s stored moist, a minimum of more often than not.

So make sure to water every time the highest few inches dry out, within the absence of rain, and undoubtedly every time you possibly can’t attain moist soil with a soil knife.

Normally, supplemental fertilizer isn’t essential should you carry on prime of your humus amendments each spring. But when your soil is very poor, you possibly can apply a balanced 10-10-10 (NPK) fertilizer in spring.

Rising Ideas

  • Present full solar to partial shade.
  • Make annual amendments of humus in spring.
  • If you happen to maintain with humus amendments, then supplemental fertilizer shouldn’t be essential.

Pruning and Upkeep

Some species put out suckers at their base, which ought to be pruned ASAP to maintain up appearances. You must also take away useless, diseased, or dying branches everytime you occur to note them.

A horizontal shot of a Cornus alba 'Sibirica' shrub with crimson red stems in an outdoor winter landscape.

As for devoted periods of pruning that form your plant’s kind and improve airflow, these ought to be completed in spring, simply earlier than bud break.

Relying on the kind of dogwood, you could not form the plant in any respect, however quite go for the “au naturel” look.

Fallen leaves ought to be raked up after they drop, except you’ve acquired a woodland backyard going. And at all times preserve a two- to four-inch layer of mulch over the basis zone – that’ll suppress weed development, preserve moisture, defend the roots, and simply look actual purty.

In winter, you possibly can stop your watering whereas the bottom is frozen.

Dogwood Species to Choose

With 57 Cornus species to contemplate, you’re spoilt for selection! Are you searching for a tree, a shrub, or perhaps some floor cowl?

You actually can’t go flawed with a Cornus, and if you wish to learn extra in regards to the several types of dogwood, try our information to 23 of the perfect varieties.

Let’s go over some top-tier species: 

Cornelian Cherry

Hardy in Zones 4 to eight, C. mas originates from west Asia, together with the central and southern areas of Europe.

Reaching heights of 15 to 25 toes and spreads of 12 to 18 toes, this tree bursts with yellow flowers in March, which later give option to purple or yellow olive-shaped drupes.

Together with being tremendous appetizing to birds and small mammals, these cornels are what make the cornelian cherry well-known, as they’re fairly scrumptious to people.

A square image of yellow flower clusters blooming on the branch of a cornelian cherry growing outdoors.

Cornelian Cherry

For a cornelian cherry tree of your personal, try

Study extra about easy methods to develop cornelian cherries in our information.


The one floor cowl on our listing, C. canadensis doesn’t let its “vertically challenged” standing detract from its aesthetics.

A local of east Asia, Greenland, and northern North America, the creeping dogwood is hardy in USDA Zones 2 to six – the colder, the higher.

Reaching a peak of three to 9 inches, this plant has the potential to unfold indefinitely by way of its creeping rhizomes, albeit very slowly.

Blooming in late spring to early summer season, the clusters of true flowers are inexperienced and discreet, however they’re surrounded by 4 white flower bracts, that are fairly showy. Later, the flowers give option to small, scarlet-red berries, which can delight the birds.


Native to southeastern Canada and japanese elements of Mexico and america, C. florida reaches heights of 15 to 35 toes and spreads of 15 to 40 toes.

Hardy in Zones 5 to 9, this tree arguably boasts the perfect blooms of the bunch.

Rising in mid-spring, the true flowers have a backdrop of 4 beautiful white leaf bracts, every with a maroon notch on the tip. After pollination, the flowers are finally changed with clusters of shiny purple drupes.

There are numerous flowering dogwood cultivars accessible with blooms in quite a lot of colours.

A square image of a white-flowering dogwood growing outdoors in front of a brick building's window.

Flowering Dogwood

You’ll find flowering dogwood with white flowers in #1, #2, and #3 containers accessible from Nature Hills Nursery.

For extra details about easy methods to develop flowering dogwoods, learn our information.


A variety of dogwoods cope with pests and illness on the common. Not C. kousa, although – this east Asian native is immune to many frequent Cornus issues.

Hardy in Zones 5 to eight, the kousa dogwood reaches heights and spreads of 15 to 30 toes, and flaunts beautiful white to pinkish flowers in late spring that, if pollinated, finally yield fruits that look rather a lot like raspberries.

A square image of a white kousa dogwood growing in a sunny field of turf under a partially cloudy sky.


You’ll find kousa dogwoods in quite a lot of sizes, from two- to seven-feet, accessible at

And make sure to give our C. kousa information a learn to study extra about rising this species!


Hardy in Zones 7 to 9, C. nuttallii is actually the flowering dogwood of the western United States and southern British Columbia.

Reaching heights of 15 to 40 toes and spreads of 10 to 25 toes, this tree has spring-blooming flowers with six white leaf bracts and fruits that appear to be a cross between these of C. florida and C. kousa.

If you happen to’re jonesing for a flowering dogwood but reside within the western US, then C. nuttallii is the one for you.


Native to japanese North America and hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 7, C. alternifolia is notable because of its – you guessed it – alternately organized foliage.

Rising 15 to 25 toes tall and 20 to 32 toes extensive, pagoda dogwoods bloom in late spring with small, yellow, bractless flowers that finally yield small blue-black clusters of drupes that develop on purple stems.

A square close-up image of the white flowers and lush green leaves of a C. alternifolia plant.


You’ll find C. alternifolia accessible at Nature Hills Nursery.

Want some pagoda dogwood data? Give our information a gander.

Pink Twig

What makes purple twig dogwoods particular? It’s proper there within the title!

A North American native that’s hardy in USDA Zones 2 to 7, C. sericea, aka purple osier dogwood, has shiny purple stems – an superior hue for a leafless, snowy panorama!

In late spring, this shrub produces white, flat-topped flowers, which later give option to clusters of globose white berries.

A square image of the leafless red twigs of C. sericea plants.

Pink Twig Dogwood

Rising six to 9 toes tall and 7 to 10 toes extensive, this purple twig dogwood is a compact magnificence.

You’ll find crops accessible at Nature Hills Nursery.

There are different species additionally generally generally known as purple twig dogwoods and you’ll study all of them in our information. (coming quickly!)


Native to northern China, North Korea, and Siberia, C. alba is a crew participant – a mass or line of them seems higher than one by itself.

Hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 7, the tatarian dogwood is fairly moderately-sized, with a mature peak and unfold of eight to 10 toes.

In late spring, these shrubs bloom with clusters of small, yellowish-white true flowers, which finally yield stunning clusters of spherical white drupes.

Moreover, the stems of this plant flip blood purple for the winter, a beautiful change from the red-streaked inexperienced of the rising season stems.

‘Elegantissima’ is a captivating variegated cultivar, sporting gentle inexperienced and cream foliage that turns purple in fall, earlier than dropping to disclose the intense purple stems.

A square image of some variegated Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' shrubs in a line outdoors, placed in front of a building window.


You’ll find ‘Elegantissima’ accessible at Nature Hills Nursery.

Managing Pests and Illness

Pests and illnesses may cause all kinds of points, from purely aesthetic issues to debilitating illness, and as an entire, dogwoods are fairly inclined to lots of them.

Contemplate this the Achilles heel that makes these in any other case good crops imperfect.

A horizontal image of many small variegated green and white leaves on the branches of a Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' shrub in a sunny outdoor garden on a spring day.

Basically, there are a bunch of ideas and tips for protecting issues at bay. Two of the neatest issues you are able to do are cultivating your dogwood correctly and sanitizing your instruments between pruning completely different specimens.

Fortunately, these timber are deer-resistant. However there are many different pests that may wreck a dogwood.

You’ve acquired your all-too-common aphids, scale, and mealybugs, in addition to the dogwood-specific borers, membership gall midges, and sawflies.

Mammal-wise, you could cope with hungry chipmunks, raccoons, and even black-bears – if they’re frequent in your area!

You’ll have loads of potential issues on the illness entrance, too. Powdery mildew, Discula anthracnose, and root rots are however a couple of of the illnesses you’ll have to cope with.

You may study extra about dogwood illnesses and easy methods to deal with them in our information.

Greatest Makes use of for Dogwoods

Individually, species of dogwoods are extra appropriate for sure panorama conditions than others. However when unified because the Cornus genus, there’s not a lot they will’t do.

A horizontal image of beautiful flowering white and pink dogwood flowers in spring, in the public gardens of Bellefontaine Cemetery in north St. Louis, Missouri.

If you happen to want a plant for establishing a border, putting alongside a house basis, grouping in a cluster, including to a local backyard, attracting wildlife, rising underneath a cover as an understory planting, or displaying as a specimen… don’t fear. There’s a dogwood for the job.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Panorama timber, woody shrubs and subshrubs, perennial creeping floor covers Flower/Foliage Coloration: Inexperienced, gold, pink, purple, white, yellow/inexperienced, variegated
Native to: Asia, Europe, North America Upkeep: Average
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 2-10, relying on species Tolerance: Deer, full shade
Bloom Time/Season: Late winter to early summer season Soil Sort: Wealthy, loamy, moist
Publicity: Full solar to half shade Soil pH: 5.0-8.0
Time to Maturity: 2-7 years or extra Soil Drainage: Nicely-draining
Spacing: Width of mature unfold Attracts: Birds, bugs, mammals
Planting Depth: 1/2 inch (seed), depth of root system (transplants) Makes use of: Border plantings, basis plantings, groupings, native gardens, specimens, wildlife attraction, woodland gardens
Top: 4 inches to 45 toes, relying on species Order: Cornales
Unfold: Indefinite (floor cowl) to 40 toes, relying on species Household: Cornaceae
Water Wants: Average Genus: Cornus
Widespread Pests and Ailments: Aphids, dogwood borer, membership gall midge, mealybugs, sawfly, scale; dogwood anthracnose, fungal leaf spot, powdery mildew Species: Alba, alternifolia, canadensis, florida, kousa, mas, nuttallii, serica

Doggone It, the Information Is Already Over?!?

’Fraid so, amigo. That’s the best way the cookie crumbles. Different hokey sayings.

A horizontal shot of a blooming C. florida tree growing in a sunny outdoor landscape.

However sure, hopefully you’ve gained a ton of dogwood know-how from this information. From right here, you’ll be capable to adorn your panorama with a beautiful Cornus or two. How’s that for superior?

Nonetheless have questions? Brimming with your personal knowledge to share? The feedback part awaits you all.

And if you wish to study extra about timber and shrubs in your panorama, learn these guides subsequent:

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