Spring in the Southern United States brings out the blossoms of dogwood trees. Dogwoods bloom in pink and red, but it's the densely white flowering dogwoods for which the South is so well known. The flowers on all dogwoods are actually bracts or modified leaves.These native trees are a popular choice for suburban homeowners, and urban parks. If you're ever in Louisville, Kentucky, during springtime, be sure to visit the famous Cave Hill Cemetery to see the spectacular display of white, pink and red blossoming dogwood trees.
The dogwood Cornus species and hybrids grow throughout the South. These flowering dogwood trees are traditionally understory trees. The Cornus florida species reveal occasional pink and red blooms interspersed throughout the densely white blooms. In the higher elevations, Cornus florida contracted an anthracnose disease resulting in the dying off of most of these flowering dogwoods. Thus the Cornus kousa, a disease resistant dogwood, replaces the native florida as the South's white flowering dogwood attraction.
Plant flowering dogwood in moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Dig a hole twice as wide, but the same depth as the rootball. Refill the hole with the dirt you removed. Although dogwoods are understory trees, they thrive in sun, but plant in part shade if possible. These shallow-rooted trees prefer moist soil. Keep watered in high temperatures and when rainfall is less than normal.
For young trees, feed a granular high-nitrogen fertilizer specifically for trees; follow label directions. After two years, tree should be well-established and fertilizing isn't necessary.
Keep dogwoods mulched year-round to retain moisture. Prune after flowering if necessary, but keep lower limbs on trees to protect the trunk from cold damage. When mowing or using string trimmers around dogwoods, be careful not to bump up against the tree. This causes holes in the trunk where borer insects can enter.
For added beauty, plant evergreen azaleas and spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips under dogwood trees.