The pink flowering dogwood is a very popular landscape tree. The pink dogwood is scientifically called Cornus florida, however it does not grow well in USDA planting zones 8b through10. The east coast native will grow between 15 and 30 feet high, and have an equal or larger spread. The flowers are actually a yellowish-green color, but the bracts are pink and that is what you see when you look at this stunning tree. The pink dogwood holds an interest for its bracts in the spring, lush green foliage in summer and red to purple foliage throughout the fall and into the winter.
Choose a location that has dappled sun, or morning sun and afternoon shade. The area should drain well, never leaving the tree in standing water. The best time to plant is fall, although you can plant in spring or summer also.
Dig a hole three times the diameter of the root ball and the same depth. Take out all grass, weeds and stones from the removed soil. Amend the soil with one part compost to two parts original soil and place 1 inch amended soil in the planting hole.
Carefully remove the tree from the container you purchased it in and gently knock off the soil around the roots. Place the tree in the planting hole while very carefully spreading out the roots.
Fill the hole halfway with amended soil and water to settle it around the roots. Continue to fill until the soil is level with the surrounding ground. The tree should sit slightly higher than it was in the container.
Create a water ring with leftover soil around the planting hole, especially if the soil is sandy. Water the tree thoroughly when first planted, filling the water ring and allowing it to drain around the roots. The water ring will eventually wash away, at which time the roots should be established. Continue to water once or twice a week throughout the summer and fall for the first two growing seasons. No water will be needed during the winter, unless the weather is exceptionally dry.
Place three wooden stakes around the tree and tie the stakes to the tree with cotton string. Do not tie the string too tight around the trunk or it may damage the bark. Check on the string often to make sure the tree does not grow and tighten the string. The stakes can be removed after two months when the tree is established.
Apply a little less than 1/4 cup granular, 12-4-8 fertilizer once you start to see new growth on the tree. Reapply the first spring and summer. Established trees will benefit from a balanced fertilizer made for flowering trees in early spring and after flowering.
Keep the disturbed area of soil covered with a three inch layer of pine bark mulch. This will need to be renewed every so often as it decomposes. It will keep the weeds down and help retain moisture and, more importantly, it will keep the trunk from being damaged by string weed cutters and lawn mowers.
Prune dead and diseased branches as soon as they are noticed. Cut all suckers growing from the base of the trunk as they will take energy away from the growing tree. Crossing branches that are rubbing against each other and limbs that grow too long and look out of place should be pruned in winter while the tree is dormant.