Pink dogwood blossoms in the rain.
image by Mike James:commons.wikimedia.org
Pink dogwoods are flowering deciduous trees that bloom in the spring and produce berry-like fruit in the summer. Dogwoods prefer partial sun and shade and nutrient-rich soil that is slightly acidic. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, pink dogwoods are easy to grow and require very little maintenance in the way of pruning or fertilizing. Their roots are shallow, so maintaining even moisture throughout the year is critically important.
Prepare a well-tilled, loosened soil bed amended with several pounds each of compost and well-aged manure. Dig a hole at least twice the diameter of your dogwood rootball and a few inches deeper. Till up the bottom of the hole to loosen the soil and pour in a few inches of compost and well-aged manure.
Slide the pink dogwood out of its nursery pot or burlap wrap, and set gently down into the prepared hole. Turn the tree until its most pleasing aspect is facing the direction in which it will most often be viewed. Back-fill half of the tilled soil and tamp down around the roots carefully with your heel or hands to settle the soil. Fill in the rest of the soil and repeat the tamping process. Build a moat at least 2 feet wide with the excess soil, creating a berm on the outer perimeter of the moat.
Water your pink dogwood by filling the moat and allowing all the water to percolate into the soil before filling it a second time. Keep the soil evenly moist when felt just 1 inch down in the soil. Monitor the soil carefully in hot or dry weather, as the shallow roots of dogwoods can dry out rapidly when the soil is not moist.
Skip fertilizer application on your pink dogwood tree for at least the first year after planting, to allow the roots to develop without competing with the fertilizer's drive to grow top foliage. Thereafter, use an organic fertilizer such as Rose Tone, or compost, or a chemical formulation such as Miracid, which the dogwood will appreciate. When using chemical fertilizers on dogwood trees, always use a light hand and dilute to a weaker application strength than the package calls for.
Mulch around the entire tree starting 1 foot out from the trunk all the way to the drip line of the outer branches. Lay down a 2-inch-thick blanket of shredded bark, cocoa hulls or leaf mold. As the mulch degrades, it will naturally fertilize the soil. Replenish the mulch each year as it breaks down. In addition to enriching the soil, mulch will also keep opportunistic weeds at bay and conserve moisture.