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.