A perennial shrub that grows throughout the Eastern part of the United States, the dogwood shrub's delicate flowers, complex and aesthetically appealing bark and manageable size makes it the perfect addition to a landscape. The dogwood shrub also provides food for wildlife, such as the white and gray squirrel, during the winter, and doubles as a habitat for a variety of birds, including the robin, wild turkey and woodpecker.
The flowering dogwood is a small tree or shrub that can reach 40 feet tall, and generally grows 12 to 18 inches in diameter. The bark is split and broken with the appearance of alligator skin. Flowers bloom from the branches between May and June. The leaves appear opposite each other on a branch and grow around 3 to 6 inches long.
Flowering dogwood grows well on slopes with porous soil in upland sites. It will survive a harsh winter by going dormant, but some winter protection may be necessary in areas to the north of the United States. Flowering dogwood improves the soil it is planted in because its leaves decay quicker than those of other tree species, giving the soil organic matter without disease.
Wildlife enjoy the flowering dogwood due to its nutritional quality. The dogwood plant has a high calcium and fat content, which makes it a good food source for birds and squirrels. Its branches provide ample coverage from wind and rain, making it a good nesting habitat for birds.
Establishment of flowering dog wood is accomplished by seed, which needs only a half inch soil cover to be successful. Daily watering is required during the first few weeks after planting, reducing the water to two times per week after one month for the first year. Establishment requires 6 to 12 months. Larger varieties of the tree may require irrigation for success in the second year.
Dogwood attracts a variety of insect pests, including the dogwood borer and dogwood club-gall midge. Large infestations may stunt the growth of the tree. Root rot is also prevalent in dogwoods that have been over-watered or fertilized too often.