Spring brings a pageantry of plants just begging for attention. Stately magnolias and rows of daffodils explain in colorful detail that winter is long gone. The loudest of this flowering bunch is the Dogwood Tree. A native of the Eastern U.S., the dogwood is the symbol of springtime in numerous yards across the country. The dogwood blossoms are actually leaves (called bracts) that open in colors ranging from white to crimson. Fall is especially dramatic as the leaves display deep hues of reds. The tree even attracts a huge number of birds thanks to the red fruits that are abundant well into winter.
Sources differ on the origin of the dogwood name. One account is that “dagwood” was the original name of the tree. Dag is an old word for a meat skewer made from the wood of the dogwood. Another source claims that the boiled bark from the European dogwoods was used to treat dogs with mange. Whatever the true story, the dogwood is a revered piece of present landscape design as well as a historical tree that even treated malaria during the Civil War.
Caring for the Dogwood
Dogwoods are the perfect lawn tree since their height rarely eclipses 20 feet. They can be a perfect background compliment in a flower garden, or even a standalone showoff in the yard. Partial shade is never a bad idea: the dogwood is originally a smaller forest tree adapted to living under larger trees’ canopy. Also, make sure to have a well composted nutrient rich soil. The dogwoods can tolerate a wide range of mediums, although its soulmate soil is a slightly acid loam. An addition of worm castings or even mycorrhizal fungi when planting will give your tree a healthy boost as well as keeping your fertilizer additions to a minimum.
If you have a lawnmower, make sure to be delicate in mowing trips around the tree. The bark is easily susceptible to damage. The dogwood does not like long periods of drought, so keep the soil moist if the rain is far away in the forecast.
Pruning is a rare need, other than taking off dead wood and branches during the winter and early spring. Disease and pests are infrequent, but it never hurts to do some research for your area to see if the dogwood has any enemies.
Now for some superstars of the dogwood world…
It would be disservice to not start out with the esteemed White Dogwood Tree. This is the classic dogwood, a milestone in many landscapes. For several weeks in mid-Spring, the white flowers come alive for a display that resides in the memory until next season. Autumn brings fiery reds with the compliment of the tree’s silver bark.
This tree grows best in growing zones 5-8
Your early spring will never be the same with the shower of pink flowers that emerge from this dogwood. The blossoms will even darken as they near the end of their cycle, creating an artistic contrast with the green foliage. The Pink Flowering Dogwood gets fiery in autumn with crimson leaves and bright red berries. The red fruit remains in the winter, which look lovely against the gray bark.
The tree grows best in growing zones 5-8
Red Dogwood Tree
This is literally a red tree for all seasons. The Red Dogwood Tree casts a giant bouquet of crimson flowers that dare anyone to look away. The emerald foliage is just peeping out in early spring when the red blossoms with pink undertones come out to play. For almost a month, the flowers will light up the lawn. Autumn comes with leaves of burgundy and bronze, followed by the lush red berries of winter. Plus, the Red Dogwood is known for being one of the most drought tolerant of the dogwood family.
It grows best in growing zones 5-8.
Kousa White Dogwood Tree
This is probably the most unique dogwood tree for one huge reason: it’s a late bloomer. It’s also a longer bloomer. The Kousa White Dogwood displays six weeks of startling whites through the middle of summer. It’s also the least finicky in regard to soil. The White Kousa can handle alkaline soil, which is an anomaly for the acid soils most dogwoods prefer. The beauty of the Kousa is that the blooms are only finished for little more than a month before the red leaves of autumn take over. Besides the White Dogwood, this tree is the top choice for both beginners and aficionados.
This tree grows best in growing zones 5-8