The flowering white dogwood is a deciduous tree that is native to the eastern states in the United States, adding year round beauty to any landscaping. This tree generally blooms in early spring for approximately three or four weeks, but the rich foliage can also add color in summer and fall to add character to your landscaping design.
Flowering White Dogwood
Flowering White Dogwood or Cornus Florida can add some impressive color to your garden, with its beautiful white flowers, rich foliage, and red winter berries. This ornamental tree is well adapted to the conditions in the United States, offering magnificent blossoms in spring.
Depending on the conditions, flowering dogwoods can grow up to 25 feet tall with annual growth of up to 24 inches. Carefully treated flowering dogwoods may even reach heights of 40 feet, creating a magnificent feature in your garden that could live up to 80 years or more.
The Trunk and Branches
Flowering White Dogwood trees are widely branched with a broad shape that tends to flatten at the top. The bark on mature trees appears to have small square blocks to create an “alligator” appearance. The wood from flowering dogwood trees has been used for years to manufacture pulleys, tool handles, wheel cogs, or even charcoal. The wood is strong, shock resistant, and hard, making it suitable for products that need to withstand heavy use.
The leaves on a Flowering White Dogwood are medium green color with a simple structure. They can be up to 6 inches long and 2 ½ inches wide.
Leaves are opposite, simple, medium-green in color, 7.6 to 15 cm long, and less than 7 cm wide. The leaf veins follow the curve of the leaf in an elliptical or arcuate line.
In fall, the leaves can turn purple or red to contrast beautifully with the bark and add drama to your landscaping.
Uses in Your Garden
A Flowering White Dogwood can create a stunning, year round focal point for your landscape design. While initially shallow rooted, this dogwood can grow up to 24 inches per year, quickly establishing in optimal conditions. This can make it an impressive feature, but you should be wary of planting your Flowering White Dogwood too close to your home or other structures that will not permit sufficient space for full growth.
In its natural habitat, the Flowering White Dogwood is generally protected by larger trees, so there are some care and maintenance tips to ensure optimum cultivation.
Flowering White Dogwoods can be grown in full sun or shade, but trees in partial shade will generally perform better. Flowering White Dogwoods planted in full sun can become stressed, which will make them more susceptible to disease or pests. Additionally, flowering dogwoods planted in full sun also rely on frequent watering or can suffer heat stress, particularly in the hotter summer weather.
Flowering Dogwood varieties, including the white, do the best in well, drained, moist, and slightly acidic soil. They can also benefit from soil that is supplemented with organic matter. Since the root flare is above ground level, you may need to supplement the top soil to maintain optimum conditions.
Your Flowering White Dogwood is likely to require watering during both summer and fall, particularly during any dry, hot spells. Regular weekly watering to a depth of approximately 6 inches is usually sufficient, but you can minimize your watering chores by adding a generous amount of mulch to help retain the soil moisture levels. You need to water your flowering dogwood throughout the year to ensure that the root area is properly soaked. Failing to adequately water your flowering dogwood may put it at risk of disease or pests.
Flowering Dogwoods tend to be winter hardy, providing a beautiful feature for your garden throughout all four seasons. In winter, the leaves will drop, but the beauty of this tree will remain, with graceful horizontal branches and red berries that stay on the tree during winter. The berries can attract birds to your yard, and when they drop, they could end up growing other dogwoods.
In terms of winter care, flowering dogwoods require little maintenance. You should check for rabbit or other damage, protecting the tree from garden invaders with chicken wire or hardware cloth.
According to the American Horticultural Society data, the Flowering White Dogwood has a Heat Resistance rating range of zones 5 to 9. This is based on the average number of days at temperatures above 86ºf per year.
Pests and Diseases
One of the most common diseases affecting flowering dogwoods is dogwood anthracnose. This disease causes stem cankers, leaf spots and can kill shoots. You may notice scorched tan blotches on the tree leaves, but the most obvious sign is after the leaves are dropped in fall. Blighted leaves continue to cling to the stems and are a clear sign that your tree is diseased and needs immediate care.
Flowering Dogwoods can also be vulnerable to dogwood borers. The larvae of these insects burrow under the tree bark entering through damage or wounds. You will need to treat the infection with an insecticide spray.
Late in winter, towards the end of the dormant phase, you should fertilize your flowering dogwood. Not all Flowering White Dogwoods require fertilizing, but if you notice short twig growth, pale or sparse leaves, they are signs it is necessary. As a guideline, you should start with two pounds of fertilizer product for every inch of trunk diameter. You should avoid the trunk of the tree when you scatter the fertilizer over the ground, or you could encourage rot.
Pruning and Trimming
Flowering Dogwoods seldom need pruning, but it may become necessary to remove any injured or dead branches, insect infested parts or diseased areas. You can also improve the aesthetics of your Flowering white by shaping the tree.
Flowering Dogwoods are “bleeders”, so they tend to bleed sap if pruned at the wrong time of year. Ideally, you should take care of pruning during summer as your tree will not bleed sap at this time. If you prune at other times of the year, your tree may bleed sap and become vulnerable to disease or pests.
If your tree has become too large to be able to safely prune, it is important to call in the assistance of a tree trimming professional.
The Origins of the Flowering White Dogwood
The name Dogwood is derived from “dog tree” introduced into the English language in 1548. It may also derive from “dagwood”, which involves using the thin twigs of the tree to create daggers.
Dogwood trees have been used for medicinal purposes for generations. The bark contains high levels of tannins, so it can be ground up to treat pain and fevers. The American love for the flowering dogwood was inspired by our founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson planted these trees in the late 1770s at Monticello, inspiring lawmakers in Virginia to name the American Dogwood the state flower. George Washington planted these trees at Mount Vernon, obtaining trees from the surrounding forest. Today, the flowering dogwood is the state tree of both Virginia and Missouri.