Dogwood trees (cornus florida) are a favorite in both urban and rural landscapes. Blossoming dogwood trees are one of the first trees to proclaim that winter is over and that spring has arrived. The trees are fairly easy to grow from seed and they grow well when planted in organic-rich soil that receives moderate shade.
Collect dogwood tree seeds from a tree in your area during late October and early November.
Soak your dogwood seeds in a container of water for 24 hours. Skim off any seeds that float to the top of the water. These seeds are unhealthy and are not viable for planting.
Place your hand into the water and squeeze the pulp that surrounds your seeds. The pulp should be soft. As you squeeze, the seeds will pop out and the pulp will float. Allow the water to sit for another 24 hours.
Skim off the pulp and any seeds that have floated to the top of the water. Pour the water into a strainer to collect the viable seeds.
Place the seeds in a plastic freezer bag that contains peat moss. Using a toothpick, poke a few holes into the bag. Place the bag into the refrigerator until spring. This process will simulate a winter season for your dogwood seeds.
Calculate the number of planting holes you will need. Although the number of holes you will need depends on how many dogwood trees you want to grow, your final total of seedlings will be reduced after you thin out the weakest plants. Plant double the number of trees that you want to grow so you have a good selection of seedlings to choose from.
Use a trowel to dig planting holes for your dogwood seeds in the spring after the threat of frost has passed in your area. Locations that receive partial shade and that have well-draining soil will work best. Holes should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart and be 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Place one seed into each hole and cover it completely with soil.
Spread compost or pine straw over the planting area.
Water your newly planted seeds twice weekly.
Apply an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer to the growing area when sprouts appear. Repeat fertilizer application every six weeks through the first week of September.
Thin out the smallest, weakest saplings in late September.
Transplant your larger seedlings so they are spaced 10 to 15 feet apart.
Spread mulch around your dogwood saplings and continue to water until the first freeze of the cold season.