Dogwood trees are a popular choice for gardens with good reason. They require minimal upkeep and look great no matter what the season. In the spring and summer you got wonderful blooms, and in the cooler autumn and winter months the dogwood bark is vibrant and attractive.
So how do you go about planting one? Let's take a look.
Best Planting Site For Each Dogwood Type
Before proceeding to dogwood tree planting instructions, we need to identify which type of dogwood you have. There are 3 basic types of dogwood:
Flowering Dogwoods - a tree grown for its colorful flowers, that appear in spring and summer. Can grow up to 30 feet. Need well-drained fertile soil, rich in organic matter with a neutral pH soil.
Shrubby Dogwoods - grown for their vivid red, orange, or purple stems to offer some color in the colder months of autumn and winter. The Cornelian Cherry dogwood also offers winter flowers, and summer fruits. Shrubby dogwoods thrive in any soil conditions, and can even grow well in damp conditions were other shrubs may fail.
Creeping Dogwoods need moist acidic soil. All Dogwood (cornus) types, grow well in either partial shade or full sun - if you want more vibrant colored stems from your dogwood shrubs though, full sun is a better option.
Planting a Flowering Dogwood Tree
As the flowering dogwood (cornus florida) is the only dogwood type that can be called a dogwood tree, planting instructions for this type will be focused on here, as planting a tree is a little more complex than planting a shrub.
- First ensure that your chosen planting site for your dogwood tree has plenty of organic matter dug into it.
- Opinion is divided as to whether spring or fall is the best time to plant dogwood trees, but you definitely need to plant when the air is cooler, and the soil naturally moist.
- Take a look at the diameter of the root ball, on your dogwood tree. Make a hole for planting, three times wider than this, and deep enough that the ball protrudes slightly from the surface - this allows space for settling.
- Once the tree is settled in its hole, fill back in using either, all the original soil, or a 50/50 mix of original soil plus well-rotted compost.
- With the tree now planted, protect the area around it with a layer of organic mulch. Fertilizing shouldn't be necessary at this stage, unless your dogwood planting site is particularly nutrient deprived.
Apart from keeping an eye out for pests and diseases (below), dogwood trees don't need much upkeep.
- As with most trees nature takes care of the watering for you so water dogwoods only during especially dry periods.
- Pruning is only necessary if you need to remove injured or dead branches; you can create more problems by pruning just because you think you need to so leave healthy branches alone.
- Dogwood tree bark is easily damaged, so take care around it with lawn mowers etc. Not only will bark damage weaken the trees structure, it is also more likely to encourage diseases to develop - especially fungal ones.
Once planted though, dogwood trees don't need much attention in order to thrive. Now you only need to worry about pests and diseases!
Dealing with Disease
By correctly following the dogwood tree planting instructions above, you should have ensured that your tree gets the best possible start. But what can you do if dogwood tree diseases strike?
As well as honey fungus, and Phytophthora, dogwood trees are particularly susceptible to cornus anthracnose - a fungal disease, specific to North American dogwood trees.
- Cornus anthracnose kills young shoots and leaves on dogwood trees, which can be identified by dead blotches on the leaves, bark cankers, and/or the dying back of young stems. Damage from this specific dogwood tree disease, can occur at any time from late spring until leaf fall.
Whilst a severe attack can defoliate an entire tree, it won't kill a tree completely.
- Raking up and destroying affected leaves, will help to control the spread of infection for the following year.
- Some fungicides are approved against fungal diseases on ornamental plants, but will not target anthracnose specifically. Varieties approved for use are: difenoconazole, myclobutanil, and triticonazole.
As you've put so much effort into selecting the best site, and preparing the soil for your dogwood tree planting, it would be more than a shame for it to be affected by disease. Some dogwood tree varieties show more susceptibility than others to this fungal disease, such as the more popular cornus florida, so try looking for resistant species on the plant instructions in-store, to get the most pleasure from your dogwood tree.
Hopefully this advice will have set you on the way to many trouble-free years admiring your dogwood tree.