St. Mary's County is located in southern Maryland, where, as the locals are fond of saying, the Potomac and the Chesapeake meet. The gardener that is considering growing a dogwood tree will be happy to know that the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is native to Maryland so it will thrive in St. Mary's county. The white flowering dogwood blooms in April and May. If you are looking for something a bit different, consider "Pendula," an attractive, weeping cultivar. Plant your dogwood tree in late March or early April while it is dormant.
Choose a location in which to plant the dogwood tree. It can grow to 30 feet to 40 feet tall, so look for overhead obstructions. The dogwood also thrives in a partly sunny environment. Try to plant the tree in an area where it will receive air circulation, which will help guard against fungal disease. If you have any questions about where to plant your tree, call the St. Mary's County Cooperative Extension Office (301-475-4484).
Dig a hole three times the width and the same diameter as the pot in which the dogwood is growing. The sandy loam soil in most areas of St. Mary's County shouldn't present a problem for the young tree's roots. If the soil in your area is compacted, use the spading fork to lightly rake the bottom and sides of the hole to loosen the soil and make it easier for the tree's roots to penetrate.
Place the dogwood tree's roots in the hole and backfill halfway with soil. Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain. This helps to settle the soil around the tree's roots and remove air pockets. After the soil drains, finish filling the hole with soil.
Lay the soaker hose around the tree, 2 feet away.
Water the dogwood tree until the water puddles. When it drains, lay down a 3-inch layer of mulch completely surrounding the tree, spread to a 2-foot radius. Do not allow the mulch to touch the trunk of the tree. Cover the soaker hose with the mulch so that it is protected from wildlife and pets.
Give the dogwood tree enough water so that the top 6 inches of soil is moist at all times.
Check the dogwood tree for pests. The hag moth caterpillar, common in St. Mary's County from July into the fall, is quite fond of dogwoods. It looks like a dried, brown leaf and is generally found feeding on the tree's leaves. This is a stinging caterpillar so wear gloves when picking it off the tree.
Inspect the dogwood tree for powdery mildew, which appears as a white, powdery growth on the surface of the leaves, initially. This fungal disease appears in St. Mary's County earlier than in most areas of the country, in late April into May and continues to fall. Manage powdery mildew with a fungicide at the first sign of infection.