Danny Flanders

China Girl Produces Large White Bracts in Spring
The flowerheads of the China Girl dogwood are large white bracts and profusely bloom in late spring and early summer. Fall brings deep red-purple leaf color and striking raspberry-like fruit.

Dogwoods are a favorite ornamental tree of homeowners -- thanks to their modest size and four-season appeal. And once you know some facts about dogwood trees, growing and nurturing these handsome trees is a breeze. 


13 Exceptional Flowering Dogwoods 14 photos

In spring, these native trees (Cornus florida), which grow only to 20 to 30 feet, explode with white (or sometimes pink or red) bracts centered with small clusters of yellow flowers, shouting that winter is finally over. In summer, their blossoms give way to light green leaves that provide welcome shade. And in autumn, that foliage turns a stunning deep red before falling, leaving a handsome skeleton with alligator skin-like bark in winter.

Dogwoods prefer partial sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Because they grow in nature as understory trees, they prefer afternoon shade to shield them from blazing sunlight.

dogwood
Dogwoods can be difficult for some gardeners to grow. Get gardening expert Felder Rushing's advice on how to help ailing trees.

Aphids and powdery mildew can be a problem, but a fungicidal application and horticultural oils in spring can help prevent insects and diseases. Though not as severe a threat as it was several years ago, the dogwood anthracnose fungus can be prevented by planting trees where they receive morning sun and good air circulation. And because their roots are shallow, dogwoods benefit from extra water during periods of drought.

The Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) is more drought tolerant than the native dogwood because it can handle more sun. This exotic species also blooms later in spring, after its leaves already have come out.

Most arborists recommend pruning dogwoods to improve their vigor and structure. Just make sure you do it in spring, just after their flowers fade, so that you don’t stunt next season’s buds.

16 Comments About this Article

  • HGTVPaul
    Hi Carol. Sorry to hear that your sister had the same problem. I'm going to check around and see what the cause may have been. We've had some really terrible droughts in the past 5 years in Atlanta, so maybe it was the sum of all those rough times. Thankfully, we've had lots of rain so far this spring (knock on DOGwood).

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Stephanie Gayle McCormick
    Can you start a new tree with the suckers on the side of the trunks. We have had a lot of our dogwoods die from the drought, but there are suckers on the trunk at the bottom. the tops are dead and the bark has fallen off of most of the trees except a few feet from the ground. can you root these suckers and plant them?

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Shiana Silkwood
    I absolutely love dogwood trees! I'm originally from Missouri and and you can't walk out the door without spotting one there, but i live in Texas now for two years and truly wish i could bring some "home" back to my "home" if you know what I mean! ugh.. i wish i could get one to grow here! (i guess i COULD try it.. )

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • HGTVMallory
    Can't hurt to try, Shiana!

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • HGTVPaul
    Hey guys ... I wanted to follow some of the comments here with a link to an article Felder Rushing wrote for HGTVGardens: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/trees/dogwood-trees

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Vanessa Williams
    Would dogwood trees thrive in South Florida? I grew up with them in Alabama and would love to grow them it my home...

    Posted 7 months ago

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  • Linda Schmoker
    I have a small pink dogwood in a very large pot underneath a willow oak tree. This gives is the right amount of shade in the afternoon. Or is the oak tree poisonous to anything underneath it? Thx for any suggestions. Linda from N.C.

    Posted 7 months ago

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  • Tweety65
    can you grow one in fl?

    Posted 7 months ago

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  • Ellen Schumaker
    We would like to plant a couple of dogwoods at our church. The site where we would like to place them is on the south and there are no other trees to block full sun from the potential dogwoods. Will the Japanese dogwoods grow, with full sun always on them?

    Posted 2 months ago

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  • Roxanne Ballard
    I have some seedlings that I have not transplanted outdoors can I keep them inside for the winter?

    Posted 2 weeks ago

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