Dogwood trees often work as showpieces in the garden, adding beauty year-round. In the spring, dogwoods become the focal point when the tree is covered in beautiful blooms. When the flowers fade away several weeks later, the tree features attractive green foliage that turns colorful shades of red, orange and purple in the fall. And after the tree loses its leaves in late fall, its interesting branching habit becomes more apparent, along with red fruit that stays on the tree much of the winter.
A variety of trees and cultivars gives gardeners a wide choice when selecting a dogwood to fit the garden. Flowering dogwood cultivars include Apple Blossom, which features apple-blossom pink flowers, and Cherokee Chief, with red flowers and new leaves also appearing reddish in color. One of the most disease-resistant dogwoods is the pink flowering, with its show-stopping vibrant pink blooms in the spring and red leaves in the fall. Another disease-resistant variety, the kousa dogwood, sports a profusion of white blooms in the spring with purple leaves in the fall.
Most dogwood trees grow up to 25 feet high and wide. In the spring, the deciduous trees start to sport fresh dark green leaves, quickly followed by spectacular blooms. Depending on the tree planted, flowers appear in shades of red, pink and white. Fruits start to grow after the blooms fade, ripening in late summer or early fall just as the leaves start to turn dramatic colors. Once the leaves fall off, the tree's red berries become obvious. The berries sometimes stay on the tree into the following year.
Dogwoods thrive in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8 when planted in well-drained soil in full sunshine. The trees tend to adapt to almost any soil type. For gardeners who need to fill space near the home or other buildings, the shallow root system of the kousa dogwood makes it ideal. The kousa dogwood also works well in warm, dry areas since the tree offers high drought tolerance. Once planted, dogwoods need to be watered regularly until the tree become well-established.
Pests and Disease
Dogwood trees remain susceptible to a variety of insects and diseases including dogwood anthracnose fungus. The fungus infects native dogwood trees in particular, so transplanting trees from the wild needs to be avoided. Borers bother dogwood trees, which also tend to get brown spots on the leaves and flowers.
Songbirds such as robins, cardinals and waxwings flock to the tree as an important food source in the winter when resources tend to be scarce. The tree also provides temporary shelter for birds and small mammals, while some birds nest in the tree in the spring and summer.