Flowering dogwood trees can be found decorating the landscape in most part of the country, popular not only for their explosion of color every spring, but because of their compact size and ease of maintenance. Although flowering dogwood trees can be purchased from a greenhouse, planting a softwood cutting from an existing tree is an easy and inexpensive way to propagate a new tree. For the best chance of success, plan to take a cutting in early June.
Clean the gardening shears before you begin. Wipe them with rubbing alcohol, or with a mixture of one part household bleach to nine parts water.
Using a clean, sharp pair of gardening shears, cut a long branch from a healthy flowering dogwood tree. Make each cut below a leaf node, which is a bump where a new leaf is about to emerge, making all cuts at a 45-degree angle. The branch should be at least the diameter of a pencil.
Divide the stem into shorter cuttings about 5 to 6 inches long. Each cutting should have at least three or four leaf nodes.
Fill a planting container with potting soil, and then spray the soil so it's wet clear through. Any type of container will work, as long as it has a drainage hole the bottom.
Dip an inch of the end of each dogwood cutting in rooting hormone, and plant the cuttings in the soil. You can plant several cuttings in the same container, as long as the leaves don't touch. Be sure at least two leaf nodes are beneath the soil, and remove any upper leaves that are coming in contact with the soil.
Cover the container with a clear plastic bag, and if necessary, put some stakes or drinking straws in the soil to keep the plastic from touching the dogwood cuttings.
Put the container in a warm place where it will get good light, but not direct sunlight, which will be too hot. Keep the soil damp, but not soaked, at all times, so open the bag and mist if necessary.
Watch for roots to develop in three to four weeks. To determine if the cutting has rooted, remove the container from the plastic bag and slide your hand carefully under the cutting to feel for roots. If no roots have developed, put the container back in the plastic for two weeks, and check again.
Poke several holes in the plastic once the cutting has taken root, and then gradually acclimate it to growing without the plastic. Open the bag one day, and then gradually expand the opening, so that the cutting is completely out of the bag in a few days. At that time, the cutting will be ready to be planted outdoors.