The flowering dogwood is a slow-growing, compact shade tree popular among homeowners in the southeast United States. In the spring the branches burst open with clusters of showy white bracts harbouring bright yellow blossoms. In the summer, the widespread branches cast a cooling shade. Autumn foliage turns a deep maroon just prior to falling from the trees. Planting a flowering dogwood is a simple procedure, enabling even the novice gardener to enjoy this multi-trunked beauty year after year.
Plant in spring. As with most trees, the flowering dogwood does best when started during the cooler, moist months. These conditions allow the sapling to establish a root system before the hot, dry summer.
Select a tree from a nursery that sells certified disease-free flowering dogwood stock. Inspect the available saplings, looking for a straight trunk and bark that is free of lesions. Check the roots, avoiding any tree that has tightly tangled roots or roots that have grown through the packaging. The soil surrounding the root system should be moist to the touch and should cling to the roots if you remove the container or wrapping.
Pick a planting site. In nature, you'll find the flowering dogwood thriving outside of direct sunlight in moist, rich soil. For the best results, try to mimic these conditions at home by choosing a planting site that has partial shade and good drainage.
Dig a hole at least three times wider than the sapling's root ball. Dig deep enough to bury the tree to the top of the root ball while still leaving the top of the stem exposed. Leaving the beginning of the root system above ground level helps to encourage root expansion and growth and improves water drainage.
Mix compost into the fill dirt until the soil is dark and slightly crumbly. Position the tree in the center of the hole and push the dirt around the roots of the sapling. Press down lightly with your fingers to compact loose soil.
Surround the base of the newly planted tree with a 2-inch layer of mulch. Spread the mulch in an 18-inch ring to retain moisture and discourage weed growth. Water the tree every day for the first five days for approximately 10 minutes. Then water weekly or as needed.