White flowering Dogwood Cornus florida


White Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)


Cornus florida is an under story tree but also can grow in full sun. These trees can attain a height of around 30 feet and will be usually wider than taller. Leaves are opposite, Simple and ovate with point on the end. Each flower is actually a small cluster of flowers called an inflorescence the four flower petals surrounding the inflorescence are actually called bracts. The bracts serve to attract pollinators. The fruits when formed are called drupes. Birds and wild life feed on these drupes whenever available.


Dogwoods prefer to grow in the dappled shade of a forest or along the edges of wooded areas. They do grow in full sun but when older will not transplant well from the forest to a sunny yard. Or from a sunny place to a shady place. If the tree is young it should have no problem adapting to the conditions where you decide to plant it. Dogwoods typically do better in moist soils, it may be necessary to water during dry spells.

These trees will grow tall and then spread wide at the top to collect light under the canopy of taller trees. While if planted in full sun the tree will take on a somewhat round to broad shape. Some will even look layered. The bark is gray and for the most part smooth when the tree is young. As the tree matures it turns distinctly scaly then a very well defined block like texture when older.


Transplanting is best done when the tree is still very young, and when it is dormant. This is not an issue if your tree is in a pot or balled in burlap. Dogwood can also be grown readily from seeds that form in the drupes. You can collect these and store where they will get the full effect of winters temperature swings and moisture fluctuations before planting them in the spring.

Dogwood Bark

Bark of the Dogwood tree.


  • Mulch should be applied around these trees until well established. The best way to get a tree growing well is to insure no competition from surrounding plants. The mulch should be applied about three to four inches deep. Make sure that the stem of the plant is clear of the mulch and make the top of the mulch flat on top not like a valcano. The mulch should minimally be 24” diameter for very small trees or enough to be able to mow around it with your mower easily.
  • Watering the first year it is critical to keep your tree watered in order for it to establish a new root system. If it starts getting dry outside for an extended period of time. Plan on watering every couple of days. The tree will need at least an inch of water a week the first year. After that it should be fine.
  • Pruning should be done in the winter when your Dogwood is dormant. The only pruning that should be needed would be to remove any dead branches, or crossing branches. If you find diseased wood or broken limbs. Broken limbs of coarse should be removed anytime you find them.


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