Hello from the team at Zone 7 Landscape Center!
The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which is native to the Eastern United States, is the species that most people think of when the word dogwood is mentioned. It is considered one of the most beloved trees and a true symbol of the south. However, there are actually two species that grow well in our area: Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood) and Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood).
The height and width of the dogwood tree varies depending on the species and its location in the landscape, but they grow at a slow to moderate rate. The height can range from 15 feet tall (this is typical of a flowering dogwood in the sun) to 40 feet tall (this is more typical of a flowering dogwood in the shade as an understory tree).
Each species of dogwood is unique. For example, the “flowers” on the flowering dogwood and the kousa dogwood are not actually flowers, but true bracts, or modified leaves that look like petals. The true flowers are clustered in the center of these bracts. The “flowers”, or bracts, range in color from white, pink, to red and the trees bloom in late winter/early spring. The flowering dogwood blooms before putting on foliage, while the kousa dogwood blooms after the leaves emerge. Despite the beautiful blooms, one of the most appealing features of many dogwoods is the elegant, horizontal branching. This is especially true of dogwoods grown in the shade.
Dogwoods are a shallow rooted tree, which means that they are often the first to succumb to drought injury. Take caution when planting dogwoods as they can be susceptible to many diseases and insects. Kousa dogwoods are generally more resistant to these pests than flowering dogwoods. Keep in mind that dogwoods do not tolerate extremely wet or dry soils and in order to reduce the chance of disease or pests, they should be watered deeply during dry periods at the roots taking care not to spray the foliage so that it reduces the risk of foliar disease. They also need good air circulation. Dogwoods prefer moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil and acid forming, organic fertilizer like Espoma Holly Tone or Happy Frog for acid loving plants. But don’t let that deter you, as they are great trees that do well in a range of areas from full sun to partial shade or filtered light.
Flowering dogwoods specifically have showy white, pink or red “flowers” that appear April and May. The fall leaf color is red to reddish-purple, although those grown in full shade may have poor fall color. Flowering dogwoods in shade are tall and thin, with graceful, open, horizontal branching. Those planted in the sun tend to be shorter, denser and more compact but the tradeoff is that they tend to produce more flowers than those in the shade. It is best used as a specimen or accent tree near a deck or patio. It is also a good small shade tree, and works well in open woodland areas, especially along the edges of woods. A couple of our favorite varieties are the Cherokee Brave (pink to red bloom), Cherokee Princess (white bloom), and Red Beauty.
The kousa dogwood is native to Japan, Korea and China and has larger floral bracts than the flowering dogwood. The “flowers” appear after leaves emerge in spring, several weeks after the flowering dogwood has bloomed. Most blooms are a creamy white color and fall leaf color varies from purple to red to yellow. The branches of this species grow upright as a young tree, and droop and spread as the tree ages. All kousa dogwoods are beautiful, but at Zone 7, we are partial to the weeping kousa dogwood as a unique specimen tree for the landscape. For more information on dogwoods, please stop by the nursery today!
March’s featured product is Happy Frog for Acid Loving Plants
Happy Frog for acid loving plants is an organic, slow release fertilizer specifically formulated for acid loving plants like dogwoods, azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, blueberries, and other evergreens and plants that require a lower pH for optimal growth. It contains a boost of nitrogen and promotes good soil drainage, making it particularly great for feeding surface roots. The Happy Frog brand of fertilizers are a great choice for all of your landscape fertilizer needs since it contains active micro-organisms, much like Zone 7’s proprietary blend of soil amender, Living Soil.
Hi from the team at Zone 7 Landscape Center!
February and March can be a busy time in the garden as you’re getting ready for the onset of spring. One of the important chores to get done before new growth begins to emerge and warmer weather arrives, is pruning. Pruning can be intimidating for many gardeners, both beginner and seasoned alike, but education is the key to success when pruning your shrubs and trees to ensure aesthetics and long-term overall plant health.
First, it is important that your pruners are clean and sharp. There are many hardware and home and garden stores that may provide this service for you. It is always a good idea to clean and oil your pruning tools after use as well to prevent rust and build up. This will ensure a clean cut with no tearing, peeling, or additional damage to the plant.
Another important factor when it comes to pruning is that you know the proper time of year to prune all of your different shrubs and trees. Pruning at the wrong time of the year and/or excessive pruning are both common causes of bloom failure, damage, and/or disease. Although most trees and shrubs can safely be pruned during the dormant winter months, not all plants should be cut back in late winter. For example, azaleas should only be pruned after they have bloomed. Heavy pruning of these can prevent flower bud set and you’ll lose those beautiful blooms for the upcoming season.
One more important factor to remember is where you prune. All plants should be pruned selectively, cutting back individual stems at the node (nodes are the place where two branches or stems meet and you will often see one or more leaves and/or buds). When pruned properly, plants maintain their natural shape and can grow strong and healthy. Correct pruning will also encourage light and air to circulate through the plant, allowing it to develop thick, full foliage throughout the plant and not leave an “outer shell” of foliage with bare branches in the middle.
Here are a few extra tips:
- Remove any weak, crossing, rubbing, broken, or diseased branches.
- Prune your summer blooming trees and shrubs, like Crape myrtles. They bloom on new growth so you will want to remove some of the old wood and remember to remove last years’ seed heads to make room for this years’.
- Cut back any liriope and ornamental grasses.
Talk to your local horticulture expert for any other questions on pruning and remember: pruning doesn’t have to be scary if you know a few quick pointers on correct techniques. Happy gardening!
Get a start on getting your landscape into tip-top shape for spring. Some pruning, fertilizing, soil enhancing, mulching and repairs done now will allow you to enjoy your outdoor spaces more come spring and summer.
More blooms, more fragrance, and less work!
What to do
in your landscape now.
It’s time to…
Feed your emerging bulbs like daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths and amaryllis. Simple Bone Meal (0-10-0) is ideal, but dogs might dig around in soil.
Bat Guano (0-5-0) is another source of phosphorus and is loaded with other organic nutrients that animals will ignore.
It’s time to…
Cut back your roses. As the new growth emerges from your roses, (now in our area, but note that they are early this year due to the mild winter temperatures we have enjoyed.) it’s time to cut them back for spring. Climbing roses are an exception. More pruning and care info click here. Also feed roses with natural rose food now, as it will take 8 weeks before the nutrients become available to the plants.
It’s time to…
Prevent insect problems before they start! Insects lay eggs all over your landscape plants. Come spring these eggs hatch and have an impact on your plants. They eat flowers and buds, they damage the foliage and steal nutrients from the plants, especially younger plants. Dormant spray smothers the eggs before they hatch. It’s lower cost than bug killers you would need later.
Azaleas and Gardenias
Or any landscape plant that had issues with insects such as scale, whitefly and mites.
It’s time to…
Apply fast acting lime to your lawn. Zoysia, Bermuda and Fescue.
Cal-Turf fast acting lime is effective in weeks, not months like traditional garden lime. This highly concentrated product covers 10,000 s/f per bag ($20). Apply now.
- Root Development
- Vigor and Plant Growth
- Drought and Stress Tolerance
It’s time to…
Transplant and relocate plants. If you need to relocate a shrub, divide your iris or lilies, or transplant seedlings into your landscape, now is a great time. When transplanting anything, be sure prepare the soil properly. Adding Zone 7 Living Soil amender to the native soil reduces transplant shock and stimulates new root development. Living Soil contains clay busting gypsum, Ph. adjusting lime, strong root stimulants, B vitamins, and other elements that assure your transplanting success. 1.5 c/f Bag $11.00 Made locally, exclusively for Zone 7 Inc.