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How to Care for a Dogwood Bush

dogwood image by Jorge Moro from

The flowering of a dogwood shrub is symbolic of the beginning of spring. The light pink and white blossoms also give off a pleasant fragrance, attracting bees and butterflies to a garden. In the winter, the reddish-pink twigs give a splash of color to a white winter landscape. These beautiful bushes require a moderate amount of time and attention. The time and effort spent caring for this delicate flowering shrubs will be repaid with lasting beauty on your landscape for many years to come.

Choose a good location to plant your dogwood shrub. Pick a location with partial shade and intermittent afternoon and evening sun. Make sure the soil is well-drained and slightly acidic by having a sample tested at your local extension office.

Fertilize your dogwood bush in the spring and fall. Use a fertilizer that is designed to acidify the soil. Sprinkle the fertilizer around the roots and perimeter of the dogwood shrub with a small plastic scoop. Water the roots thoroughly and the surrounding ground moderately with the sprinkler attachment of a garden hose.

Add mulch around the flowering dogwood after it is first planted. Use pine straw, cypress mulch or your own garden compost mixture. Add a 2-inch layer around the base of the dogwood bush, extending to the outer edges of the tree. Add more mulch as the original layer decays. Place a thicker layer of mulch, approximately 3 to 4 inches thick just before the first frost of the season.

Water the dogwood bush once a week during the spring and summer months. Do this at dusk so the water will not evaporate. Use cool but not cold water to do so. Water the ground thoroughly but do not over-soak or allow water to stand in the area

Prune dead or injured branches away from the dogwood bush during the fall with pruning shears. Do this before the first frost. Trim away dead or injured branches, or any that may be extremely overgrown. Pull off dead leaves from healthy branches by hand and discard.

Check your dogwood bush for crown canker disease. Look for open wounds that are normally on the lower part of the trunk. Inspect the soil line around the base of the bush for oozing, dark-colored fluid around the soil line. Cut down the dogwood bush with an axe and completely remove the root system using a shovel if this is present so other dogwood bushes in the vicinity will not become infected.

Check the leaves of your dogwood shrub for signs of white powdery mildew. Spray the bush with a fungicide to rid the tree of this disease if there are white splotches present. Spray leaves lightly with the herbicide mixture and repeat every 14 to 21 days until signs of the disease have subsided.


Dogwood shrubs grow best and suffer less often from disease when grown in partially shaded areas.

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