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Available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, three-season dogwood trees boost interest to a landscape for most of the year. The intrigue begins with showy four-petal flowers from spring through summer, followed by bright red and orange foliage in the fall. Winter brings showy bright red fruit for a final splash of color.
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Part Sun, Sun
20 feet or more
From 10 to 15 feet
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 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.