How to Plant a Dogwood Tree From a Sapling


A dogwood tree (Cornus florida) is a deciduous tree, native to the eastern United States. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and has sweetly scented white flowers that bloom in the spring. These flowers are actually bracts, which are a modified leaf that turns colors. Dogwoods grow best in growing zones 5 to 8 and are a shade-loving tree.

Step 1

Select a planting location with partial shade and protection from winds. Dogwood trees do best in shady conditions, yet will tolerate morning sun. Plant in late fall or early spring while the dogwood sapling is still dormant.

Step 2

Prepare the soil before planting by tilling or raking the area to loosen the soil. Remove any large soil clods and large rocks. Add in compost and work in well so the soil is fluffy and well-draining.

Step 3

Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deeper than the height of the root ball and about three times as wide. Water the hole and let drain out.

Step 4

Set the dogwood sapling into the hole so the top of the roots are about 1 inch above the ground's surface. Fill in the hole about halfway with soil and add water to cover the soil. Let the water drain out.

Step 5

Fill in the hole rest of the way with soil. Mound the soil up about 3 to 4 inches around the base of the plant and tamp down gently with your hands.

Step 6

Water the newly planted sapling well so the soil is moist. Use a soaker hose to allow for deep watering. Water one to two times per week during spring through fall, and not at all during winter.

Step 7

Add a layer of mulch in a 3-foot area around the sapling. Use about 2 inches of pine straw or chopped leaves. This will conserve water and control weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Dogwood sapling
  • Rototiller
  • Shovel
  • Soaker hose
  • Mulch
  • Flagging tape


  • Ohio Department Of Natural Resources: Flowering Dogwood
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Selection And Care Of Dogwoods

Who Can Help

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: plant dogwood trees, plant dogwood sapling, planting dogwood trees

About this Author

Amy Madtson resides in southern Oregon and has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008, focusing on health and gardening for websites such as eHow and GardenGuides. Madtson has an Associate of Arts in business from Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington. She holds a childbirth educator certification and a one-year midwifery completion certificate.