Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

…for a graceful garden tree


Common Name: Flowering Dogwood

Latin Name: Cornus florida

Design Tips: A single specimen can provide a well-scaled focal point in a small area. A symmetrically arranged pair in lawn or hedge border furnishes formal design with living structure. Multiple plantings below deciduous trees creates a naturalized understory scene.

Size and Form: This garden-sized tree matures at 15 to 25 feet tall in cooler climes and usually 12 to 15 feet in hot-summer zones with shallow soil. An open tiered branch formation is more likely to occur in shady sites.

Flowers: Three to four-inch blooms sit on horizontal branches, opening before leaves appear in spring. They remain in tact for about three weeks as the foliage develops. The specie's blossoms open creamy white, aging to pure white with a rosy pink blush on the bract tips. Several cultivars offer various shades of pink.

Foliage and Fruit: Summer green leaves turn crimson-orange in autumn. Round, red berries remain long after leaf fall.

Soil: Although native to deep acidic soils of East Texas and Eastern U.S., the dogwood can be cultivated in a humus-amended alkaline-based soil with good drainage.

Light Exposure: A dappled or half-day shade ensures more attractive foliage and tree shape in hot climate gardens.

Cold Tolerance: It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Grooming: No seasonal grooming is required, although lower branches can be removed for head clearance as the tree develops.

Snippets: There are many legends as to the origins of the name dogwood. The most commonly told stems from an old English custom of boiling the bark of a European species of dogwood for making an astringent wash to treat dogs for mange. Another theory cites "dogwood" deriving from the word "daggerwood", referring to the use of its branches for skewering meat cooked over open flames. Another refers to the very hard wood being used for making gears, pawls and other cog devices known as "dogs" in carpentry.

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 Cultivated, photographed and written by
Maggie Ross McNeely in Fort Worth, Texas
All rights reserved