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How to Help Your Dogwood Flourish

As the summer approaches, nothing is more beautiful than watching your dogwood tree come out in full bloom.

Of the many varieties of trees, the dogwood tree is one of the most attractive in the American landscape.  Avid gardeners are drawn to the four distinct types: the kousa dogwood, cornelian cherry dogwood, pacific dogwood, and the native flowering dogwood. You’ll see more of these populating the Pacific Northwest as they are more disease resistant than many of the other indigenous species.

But, like anything else, there are steps involved that will help your dogwood tree thrive no matter what the weather holds.  Following the five tips below will help you achieve maximum results for making your dogwood tree flourish. 

How to Help Your Dogwood Tree Flourish

Tip #1: Choosing your dogwood tree

The process starts with two questions.

What type of dogwood tree is good for your landscaping?

What type of dogwood tree is best for your particular climate?

There are many factors to consider, such as:

  • the type of vegetation that is surrounding the site,
  • the amount of sun or shade the site will receive,
  • the type of soil in and around your desired site,
  • the proximity of the site to exterior factors like power lines, fences and foundations,
  • height restrictions for your site,
  • and most importantly, what your desired purpose for planting your dogwood will be.

In some cases, you might have to confer with your homeowner’s association to be sure any tree restrictions are met. These will be listed within the covenants, conditions and restrictions.

Perhaps your goal is to beautify your garden, or you simply desire to create more privacy.   The dogwood tree can fit all of your needs. And once you have decided on the location to plant your new tree, you’ll be armed with information that will allow you to choose the best type of dogwood to plant.

Tip # 2: Soil

It is recommended to have your soil tested to determine that it has the fundamental minerals and nutrients necessary to allow your tree to blossom.  You can hire a landscaper to handle this part of the process or you can test the soil yourself.

You’ll specifically want to test the soil drainage in the location that you plan on planting your dogwood.  To test the drainage, excavate a hole 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep. Fill it with water and let it drain.

Depending on the drainage, you can determine if your soil is missing vital nutrients. This will give you the opportunity to replenish it with the missing elements needed to sustain healthy, robust growth of your dogwood tree.

Ideally, dogwood trees thrive in well-drained soil that isn’t too dry and somewhat acidic. If the soil contains organic matter, it is a plus.  Having the proper nutrients will allow your new tree to grow strong and healthy.

Tip #3: Planting

Once you’ve selected your tree, it’s time to plant it.

When planting, place a layer of 3 to 4 inches of fertilized mulch around the tree during the planting stage. You’ll want to plant your dogwood about two-thirds of the distance of the root ball and leave the upper part uncovered. Doing this will allow the water to drain around the roots, which will assist in keeping the soil moist during the dry season.

The mulch also helps keep the weeds away. Keeping the weeds at bay not only keeps your dogwood looking good, but it also keeps your dogwood healthy.

Dogwood trees will grow in either direct or partial sunlight, but they prefer partial shade –  preferably morning sun. With the proper planting technique, they will grow nicely with either option.

Tip #4:  Fertilization

Don’t over fertilize!  

Often times, homeowners are guilty of over fertilizing their landscape – especially dogwood trees.  Most young trees do not require fertilization when initially planted as this can damage the root ball.  

Once your new tree is 6 feet tall, it can be fertilized bi-annually. A quarter cup of fertilizer is sufficient for each fertilization, and watering well after application is key.

The best months to fertilize are March and July. If you happen to plant a dogwood tree within your landscaping and you fertilize your lawn regularly, you won’t need to fertilize your tree separately.  And as it matures, it won’t require as much fertilization as the younger saplings; only half of the fertilizer application will be enough.

Tip #5: Pruning

As a tree grows and matures, it needs regular care. Basic pruning will prevent it from becoming sick and unattractive.

Like any other tree, you’ll want to remove disease-ridden, damaged or dead branches right at the neckline.  If these branches are not pruned, they will eventually be taken over by insects and be susceptible to further disease.  

It is important for a dogwood tree to receive the right amount of sunlight and air circulation, so removing any branches that block the canopy is key.  Doing this will allow the proper airflow so it can grow properly.

Low hanging branches that cross each other should also be removed since these branches end up chafing each other and eventually end up creating an access point for insects and disease to take over.

Following just a few smart tips will help you grow a healthy and strong tree with ease and confidence.  Not only will your dogwood compliment your landscape, but it also has the potential to increase the value of your home.