Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is a small ornamental tree that produces clusters of white flowers in spring and reaches a height of 30 feet and spread of 35 feet. The tree native to the eastern U.S. and is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 5 through 9. Flowering dogwood produces seed fruit in late summer, which can be used to propagate new plants. Seed propagated flowering dogwood trees will take 6 to 7 years to produce flowers.
Collect dogwood seeds from the tree starting in late summer once the seed fruit changes color and ripens on the tree. Pinch the fruit to force out the seed.
Wash the seeds by soaking them for one to two days. Gently remove pulp that covers the seed. Discard seeds that float as they are not viable.
Plant the seeds in an outdoor garden bed that contains a well-draining soil. Sow the seeds at a depth of 1/2 inch and 1 inch apart. Spread clean straw mulch over the planted seeds to protect them during the winter.
Cold stratify the seeds if they will be planted in spring. Place them in a plastic bag filled with moist sphagnum moss and store in a 40 degree F refrigerator for four months. Monitor the seed moisture to prevent them from drying.
Plant cold stratified seeds in late winter to early spring by sowing them indoors in containers filled with even parts peat moss and course sand that is dampened with water. Place the container in a location that receives bright, indirect light. The seeds will germinate in two to three weeks.
Harden the seedlings by gradually placing them outdoors once there is no longer a risk of frost. Transplant the seedlings to a garden bed that receives morning sunlight.
Water the soil to keep it moist during the first growing season. Do not overwater or create standing water around the seedlings, as this will cause the stems to rot.
Fertilize the seedlings during the first year of growth with a 16-4-8 general purpose fertilizer every six weeks until early fall. This will assist the dogwood tree in growing strong stems.
Transplant the dogwood seedlings to a permanent growing location after the first winter. Dig as much of the root ball as possible during transplanting.