Cornus florida, commonly known as the flowering dogwood, is one of the most popular flowering trees in the US. Its large showy blooms are composed of small yellow flowers, in clusters at the end of the branches, with four large white or pink petal-like bracts surrounding them. Such a stunning bloom makes it a desirable tree to plant in your yard. When planting a cornus florida, keep some of these tips in mind.
The cornus florida, hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8, is a deciduous tree. It grows quickly but is not long-lived. It likes well-drained, slightly acidic soil mixed with rich organic matter. This is a great plant companion planted with rhododendrons and azaleas, but is also a lovely tree planted as an accent in a yard. The tree grows wild in the Northeastern and Eastern United States, but should never be transplanted from the wild. Dogwood trees in the wild are often riddled with pests, diseases, and fungus.
Buy a certified disease-free tree from a nursery. Before purchase, check the root ball to make sure there is sufficient soil around the roots and that the soil and roots are moist. Dogwoods do not tolerate dry conditions so make sure you choose a spot with plenty of room and no nearby heat-reflective walls. Add mycchorizal fungi, a beneficial fungus, to the soil
Cornus florida should be planted in the spring before the tree enters its growing season. Dig a hole three times as wide as the root ball and just deep enough so that the top of the root ball is above ground level. This allows for settling after planting. After seating the tree in the hole, fill in the hole with the original soil or a mixture of the soil and organic matter. Cover the soil with a layer of organic mulch. If the soil is poor, consider adding some fertilizer. Normally, this is not necessary. If you do fertilize, make sure the fertilizer you choose is formulate to meet the specific needs of cornus florida.
Flowering dogwood trees like moist soil so water it well. During dry spells you will need to provide water weekly. The wood of the cornus florida is easily damaged so be careful when mowing around the tree. Wounds make excellent entry points for insects and fungus. The most common problems for cornus florida are anthracnose, a fungal disease, and the dogwood borer. Light brown spots on the leaves are the earliest signs of anthracnose. Early treatment is essential or the tree will die and is best done by a tree expert. Trees planted in moist, shaded areas are most susceptible so choose a location in bright sun. The dogwood borer is the most common pest and attacks not only the cornus florida but other trees as well. It gains access through wounds and damage to the tree. If you suspect dogwood borer, consult your nursery or a tree expert.