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How to Plant a Princess Dogwood Tree

Princess dogwoods, the white flowered cultivars often called Cherokee princess, bring year-round interest to the garden. Princess dogwoods bloom in April or May with white or pink flowers. The flowers are followed by greenish-bronze or greenish-yellow leaves which turn dark green in summer, then reddish-purple in the fall. Red berries appear in summer and can last well into winter. Princess dogwoods are usually wider than they are tall, reaching a mature height of 15 to 30 feet. They prefer partial shade with a soil pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Plant princess dogwood trees in early spring while they are still dormant.

Choose a spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. The soil must be fast-draining and slightly acidic.

Mark out a circle five times wider than the root ball of the princess dogwood.

Use a garden till to break up the soil within this circle to the same depth the dogwood was growing at.

Dig a saucer-shaped hole in the middle of the circle. The hole should be twice as wide as the root ball but just deep enough to place the dogwood at the same depth or slightly higher 3 to 4 inches that it was growing at.

Mix the soil removed from the hole with pine bark mulch. You want a 1/3 pine bark mulch and 2/3 soil mix. Mix in 1/2 cup of superphosphate.

Remove the princess dogwood from its container or unwrap a balled and burlapped tree. Loosen the soil around the roots and spread out the roots as much as possible.

Gently place the princess dogwood in its planting hole, spreading out the roots on all sides of the root ball.

Backfill the hole with the pine bark/soil/superphosphate mix.

Pour 1 to 2 gallons of water slowly over the planting hole. As the water drains it will settle the soil around the roots. You may have to add more pine bark/soil/superphosphate mix to level the soil in the planting hole.

Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the princess dogwood. The mulch should extend 3 to 4 feet from the trunk of the tree. Pull the mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the trunk to prevent rodent damage and damage from excess moisture.


Princess dogwoods are an understory tree. They prefer to be planted under larger trees like oaks and hickories.

Using acidic mulches like pine bark, chips and needles will gradually make the soil acidic as they break down.


All dogwoods have extensive root systems, often three to five times the size of the above ground portion. So plant them away from flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and underground pipes.

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