Dogwood trees are a very popular flowering tree. Whether set apart as a specimen in the landscape or planted in a large groups, dogwoods put on a show of beautiful flowers in the spring. Butterflies and bees visit these trees regularly when in bloom and birds feast on their berries in winter. In the wild, look for dogwoods at the edges of deciduous forests or under the protective shade of pine trees.
Pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia) produce small flat clusters of creamy white or off-white flowers. The flowers remain in bloom for only a few weeks but they are very fragrant. Later in the growing season, the tree develops bluish-black berries.
The leaves of the alternifolia are something of a rarity in the dogwood family because they alternate along the stem. Imagine the tiered tower shape of a pagoda playing out on the horizontal branches of this tree and you will see how this dogwood earned its common name. Covered in a light brown to gray colored bark, pagoda dogwoods tend to grow 25 feet high.
The Korean or Chinese Dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a small deciduous ornamental that grows to about 20 feet. Plant this dogwood in moist soil that drains well. Place it in full sun or partial shade. Amend the soil with organic matter and it will produce many flowers in the late spring and early summer. Korean dogwoods boast a late and long blooming season, usually lasting 4 to 6 weeks. It is not shocking to see flowers on Korean dogwood trees as late as July. The leaves of a Cornus kousa are a medium to dark green and its bark is a light brown to gray color.
Korean dogwood is generally resistant to anthracnose, a disease common to many hardwoods, which gives it a significant advantage over many other dogwood trees.
Pink dogwoods (Cornus florida Rubra) are a variation of cornus florida. Choose the Rubra variation for its pink and white flowers that bloom in midspring for about two weeks. It is a low-branching tree with gray stems. This dogwood usually grows to about 25 feet high. Give this tree its best chance to perform well by planting it in position where it will be in partial shade or full sun. Pink dogwoods can tolerate some drought conditions, but prefer moist soil that drains well.
Amend the soil with rich organic matter similar to that of the plant's native woodlands in the west and eastern parts of the United States.
The foliage is dark green, except in fall when the leaves turn a deep, reddish-purple. Pink dogwoods produce glossy, red berries.
White dogwoods (Cornus florida) prove their worth in the landscape throughout the year. In the spring, snow white flowers cover branches that can extend 20 to 30 feet wide. In the fall, summer's green leaves turn a deep red color. In the winter, red berries provide color for humans and food for birds.