Dogwood Tree

Dogwood Tree
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Cherokee Sunset' flowering dogwood
Credit: Bob Stefko
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Cherokee Sunset' flowering dogwood

Dogwood Tree

Available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, dogwood trees add beauty to the landscape for most of the year. The show begins with pretty four-petal flowers from spring into summer, followed by bright red and orange foliage in the fall. Winter brings showy bright red fruit for a final splash of color.

genus name
  • Cornus
light
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub
  • Tree
height
  • 20 feet or more
width
  • From 10 to 15 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
special features
zones
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
propagation

Colorful Combinations

What many people consider to be flowers are actually bracts (showy structures that range in color from soft white to deep pink). Dogwood tree's true flowers are held in a round cluster at the center of each bract, which stay attached to the branches much longer than actual blooms. Some types of dogwood trees are grown for their true flowers, however, which are borne in clusters of small blooms that create the effect of larger blooms.

Dogwood Tree Care Must-Knows

Care requirements depend on the species of tree being grown. Dogwood trees generally prefer a well-drained soil slightly on the acidic side. The trees should be kept consistently moist, although they can tolerate occasional dry spells once established. Many species prefer organic soil, which may call for an application of compost. Heavy mulch helps these plants thrive in both summer heat and winter cold.

Dogwoods are understory trees, which is why many species have adapted to or prefer part shade, especially in the hot afternoon sun. Select varieties tolerate full sun.

In addition to bearing beautiful flowers, many species bear beautiful edible fruit that can be made into preserves. Leaving some fruit on the plant for wildlife to enjoy is especially important in the winter when little else is available.

Dogwood trees don't need much maintenance as a rule, but pruning may be needed occasionally to shape the plant. Summer is the ideal time to prune since the plant experiences a heavy sap flow during winter and spring.

New Innovations

New varieties of dogwood trees seldom hit the market because woody trees take so long to go from the point of breeding to introduction. Dogwoods are a diverse group, however, so ornamental traits and practical traits (such as summer-heat tolerance, hardiness, and bloom time) are being worked on to create new and better plants. For example, one recent introduction features bright orange fruit instead of the more common red fruit.

More Varieties of Dogwood Tree

'Cherokee Chief' flowering dogwood
Credit: Bill Stites

'Cherokee Chief' flowering dogwood

Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' is an old classic variety that bears loads of ruby-pink blooms in late spring. It grows 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide in Zones 5-8.

Cherokee Sunset' flowering dogwood
Credit: Bob Stefko

'Cherokee Sunset' flowering dogwood

Cornus florida 'Cherokee Sunset' is one of the most dramatic varieties. It bears deep pink flowers and yellow-edged foliage. It grows 20 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8

'China Girl' dogwood
Credit: Bill Stites

'China Girl' dogwood

Cornus kousa 'China Girl' is a free-flowering variety, even at a young age, that produces plenty of creamy white blooms. It grows 22 feet tall and 15 feet high in Zones 5-8.

'Cloud Nine' flowering dogwood
Credit: Rob Cardillo 

'Cloud Nine' flowering dogwood

Cornus florida 'Cloud Nine' offers large white flowers with overlapping bracts that appear in spring. The compact tree grows 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 5-8

'Golden Shadows' dogwood
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'Golden Shadows' dogwood

Cornus alternifolia 'Golden Shadows' is a bold, eye-catching variety grown as a small tree or large shrub. It offers golden-edged foliage and has a rosy tint when it emerges in spring. It grows 15 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-8

Pink flowering dogwood
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Pink flowering dogwood

Cornus florida 'Rubra' bears pink flowers in late spring. The tree grows only 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 5-8

'Milky Way' dogwood
Credit: Jon Jensen

'Milky Way' dogwood

Cornus kousa 'Milky Way' bears a generous constellation of white flowers followed by plenty of red-berried fruit. It's disease resistant and grows 22 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Zones 5-8

'Satomi' dogwood
Credit: Andy Lyons

'Satomi' dogwood

Cornus kousa 'Satomi' is a disease-resistant selection with dark pink flowers in late spring. It grows 22 feet tall and 15 feet high. Zones 5-8

'Wolf Eyes' dogwood
Credit: Marty Baldwin

'Wolf Eyes' dogwood

Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes' bears beautiful white flowers, but it also features stunning green foliage edged in white. Zones 5-8

Garden Plans for Dogwood Tree

deck garden plan illustration
Credit: Illustration by Eric Flynn

Garden Design for a Deck

A garden design featuring easy-to-grow shrubs and perennials enhances this deck and helps it blend into the garden.

Click here to download this plan!

Woody Corner
Credit: Mavis Augustine Torke

Corner of Shrubs

Trees and shrubs are the four-seasons backbone of the landscape. Create an eye-catching vignette with these woody plants in your garden.

Download this plan now.

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