Flower dogwood: care and varieties

Flower dogwood: care and varieties


Different species from the dogwood genus, which bears the Latin name Cornus, are known in German as flower dogwood. This group includes woody plants that develop showy flowers with white or light red tints. Their distribution area extends over North America and East Asia. They grow on fresh soils in the undergrowth or in the edge areas of deciduous and coniferous forests.

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  • Are there different varieties of dogwood?
  • The ideal location for the dogwood
  • Do I have to prune my dogwood?


The leaves are arranged opposite one another. Two leaves sit opposite each other on the branch. They are divided into leaf blade and stalk. The blade is simply designed and has entire margins. It grows between seven and twelve inches long and is oval-shaped. The striking leaf veins are typical of all dogwood species. Side nerves branch off on both sides from a raised midrib, which curve up to the tip of the leaf.

When dogwoods sprout, the young leaves appear yellowish to green. Over the course of the growing season, they change their color to a dull green. In autumn the leaves glow orange-red to purple. They fall off the branch shortly before the onset of winter and decompose comparatively quickly.


The flowers appear shortly before or with the leaf shoot. About 20 individual flowers crowd together to form small, spherical to umbel-shaped inflorescences. It is not the petals that are decoratively colored in white or rose-red. The inconspicuous flowers are framed by strikingly large bracts, which, thanks to their color, take on the function of petals. They serve to attract insects as potential pollinators.

The buds are formed in autumn. They are between five and ten centimeters long and indented at their tip. After they have unfolded in the spring, the bracts are connected to each other at their tips. Only later do they separate and stand free. Depending on the species and variety, the buds open between the end of April and the end of June. Young dogwoods are not yet in full bloom. It takes a few years for the bracts to appear in their final size.


Flower dogwoods grow as multi-stemmed shrubs or as a small tree with a main stem and crown. They reach heights of between four and seven meters. In individual cases, the species can reach heights of up to twelve meters. If crowns are developed, they appear in a broad to rounded shape. The side branches grow almost horizontally. Young twigs have a greenish bark that turns reddish when exposed to sunlight. With age, the branches turn gray and tend to crack.

The trees are shallow roots. They develop a creeping root system just below the soil surface. The roots are sensitive to soil compaction, injuries and floods.


Cornus species are popular ornamental trees that are planted individually. The tree-like growing representatives need a lot of space so that they can spread their expressive crown unhindered. The bush-shaped representatives are suitable for planting arrangements with other species. They harmonize with red Japanese maple species or witch hazel that develop yellow flowers. Dogwoods can be combined with topiary trees. They loosen up the overall picture so that it appears less strict.

Dogwoods can be combined with different perennials. They cut a fine figure in the background of perennial plantings. Late bloomers such as autumn anemones, silver candles or monkshood provide color contrasts.

Here the trees set the tone:

  • in the bucket on the balcony
  • in courtyards and front gardens
  • in house entrances and driveways


The fruits of the dogwoods are not poisonous. Most species develop red berry fruits that have a bland taste. They consist of a thick skin and have comparatively little pulp. Cornus kousa 'Teutonia' develops thick berries with a fruity taste. They are ripe for harvest as soon as they have turned completely red and are somewhat soft.

Which location is suitable?

Dogwood grows on a well-drained and loose substrate. They prefer a sheltered location in a sunny location and like high humidity. The different species tolerate limestone or clay soils differently. The North American species require sandy soil with a pH in the acidic or weakly acidic range. East Asian species also grow on loamy or slightly calcareous soils.

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What soil does the plant need?

The earth should be rich in humus. Moist conditions are ideal, with no waterlogging. A drainage made of gravel ensures that the water can seep away well. The Asian species and cultivars are less demanding in relation to the soil conditions.

The root area likes a cool and moist soil. Plant the tree slice with weak ground cover. They help to keep the moisture conditions of the substrate at a constant level. Alternatively, you can mulch the soil or cover it with a layer of bark compost.

What is the best time to plant?

Planting in autumn is possible. However, young plants have little time to develop a strong root system before winter. Spring is more suitable for planting. Wait for the last late frosts.

The correct planting distance

In the case of tree-like dogwoods, make sure that no other woody plants interfere with the development of the crown. These species should better be settled in solitary positions in the open area. Shrub-like representatives can be placed in planting arrangements. Here you have to pay attention to the growth width of the respective species so that the plants are not too close to each other later.

You have to consider this when planting:

  • The root ball should be above ground level
  • Do not carry out any digging work in the area of ​​the tree grate
  • Loosen the soil thoroughly

Propagate dogwood

Dogwoods can be propagated from seeds. The first fruits are developed from the age of five or six. Pick the ripe fruit and remove the pulp from the core. Put the seeds in a pot filled with potting soil. Place the planter in a partially shaded place and keep the substrate evenly moist.

After the plant has grown about 8 inches tall, it can be planted outside. Get the plant used to the outside conditions by placing the pot outdoors. There should be no more frosts, as these damage the young plant.

In spring you can divide shrubs and make daughter plants. These plants can be grown in the tub or planted immediately in the garden. Since this method robs the mother plant of energy, it should be done rarely.

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Dogwood in the pot

Flower dogwood species are suitable for cultivation in pots. Bucket trees do not grow as tall as the representatives in the field. If they are given a sufficiently large planter, they will quickly adapt to the conditions. A pot with a volume between 30 and 50 liters is ideal. Fill the planter with a loose mixture of garden soil and coconut fiber. An optimal supply of water and nutrients is necessary so that the wood does not wither. Make sure you have adequate protection from frost in winter, as the roots in the tub can very easily freeze to death.

Place the pot in a bright location where sunny hours alternate with shady periods. On the balcony, dogwoods provide an aesthetic change.

Cut flower dogwood properly

Flower dogwoods rarely need to be cut. If the shrub has become too tall or is affecting neighboring plants, clearing out is useful. A cut back ensures that older specimens are brought back into shape.

Wait until the last flowers have withered before cutting. Later pruning measures can impair bud development in autumn. Avoid a radical cut. A thinning of the crown is better. Cut off the outer shoots at their base, which will spoil the overall picture.

The hybrid 'Venus' hardly branches out. Targeted pruning in spring is recommended for this variety in order to promote dense growth. Older plants also tolerate such pruning measures well.

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Water dogwoods

Flower dogwoods prefer balanced moisture conditions in the substrate. Prolonged drought damages the trees in the same way as waterlogging. Water the plants regularly. If they grow in sunny locations, the need for water increases. Use rainwater or very soft tap water, as many species do not tolerate lime.

A layer of mulch on the ground ensures that the substrate remains evenly moist. The mulch (€ 213.00 at Amazon *) provides the plants with additional nutrients at the same time.

Fertilize flower dogwood properly

The species do not need additional fertilizer if the soil is mulched regularly. If the plant growth stagnates, it makes sense to give it nutrients. Supply the wood with manure or compost. You should not use liquid fertilizer as there is a risk of over-fertilization. Too high nutrient concentrations endanger the plants even more than an undersupply.

How do I transplant properly?

If the dogwood has to be moved, you should wait for the leaves to be shed in autumn. The wood is then at rest. Because the plants are sensitive to radical pruning, you shouldn't prune dogwoods before transplanting.

Cut off a large bale and push sturdy boards under the roots to lift them out of the hole. This measure is well suited in loamy soils, as the root ball develops a compact lump with the earth. Loose substrate crumbles. If your dogwood grows in sandy soil, you should lift the wood slightly and pull a thick plastic sheet under the root ball. You can then tie up the foil at the base of the trunk in order to lift the root system and the surrounding soil out of the hole.

The new location should be prepared so that you can plant the woody plant quickly. Make sure you water it regularly in the first year so that the roots can grow in well in the new place.


The American dogwood is particularly susceptible to anthracnose, also known as leaf tan. This fungal infection spreads among trees that are in too humid locations. It is expressed by small spots on the leaves. If it spreads rapidly, the leaves will die, but the shrub will not shed them immediately. If the fungus spreads rapidly, the entire plant can die. The Asian dogwood is largely resistant to this disease. When buying, pay attention to the vitality of the plant and avoid woody plants whose leaves are stained.

Powdery mildew can become infected. This fungus leaves a white coating on the upper side of the leaf that can be easily wiped off. Its spores spread in warm and dry conditions. If powdery mildew is not controlled, leaves and flowers can die off.

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The juniper leaf miner is one of the occasional pests. When the wood is affected, its shoot tips turn brown. Remove the shoots in time. The American dogwood is popular with the white berry medlar in Central Europe. It lives semi-parasitically and removes water and nutrients from the stem axis of the dogwood with its roots.

Dogwood does not bloom

It takes several years for dogwoods to bloom for the first time. It can take five or more years for the first flowers to develop. An unsuitable location or incorrect care measures can also prevent the trees from blooming. If the summer months are too cold and very cloudy, dogwoods avoid the development of their flowers. You need warm and sunny conditions and an optimal water supply.

First aid measures:

  • pour penetrating
  • Check the pH value
  • fertilize
  • Examine health status

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Brown leaves

If the flower dogwood turns brown leaves in late summer, an inadequate water supply may be the cause. The need for water increases, especially in hot summer months, and the wood has to be watered daily. Depending on the type of soil, the amount of water you need to give the plants increases or decreases. Sandy soils should be watered more often, while loamy soils hold water longer.


The tiered growth of the dogwood does not only look aesthetic. The growth form proves to be the perfect shade provider. The tree-like representatives in particular can create small, secluded spots in the garden as a solitary plant. A bench right in front of the wood invites you to linger from spring to autumn.


  • American dogwood: Slow growing. Bracts white, flowering time between May and June. Height between 400 and 600 centimeters.
  • Pacific dogwood: suitable for mild winter regions. Bracts white, flowering time between May and June. Height between 300 and 600 centimeters.
  • Japanese dogwood: bracts white with greenish-yellow flowers, flowering time between May and June. Height between 300 and 600 centimeters.
  • Chinese dogwood: tolerates drought. Flowers white, flowering time between June and July. Height between 500 and 800 centimeters.
  • Venus : Hybrid of Japanese and Pacific dogwood. Robust, easy to grow. Flowers creamy white, bracts up to 15 centimeters in diameter.
  • Cherokee Chief : variety of the American flower dogwood. Hardy. Bracts intensely pink colored.
  • Cloud Nine ': variety of the American flower dogwood. Hardy. Bracts colored white, floriferous.
  • Rubra : variety of the American flower dogwood. Does not tolerate waterlogging or lime. Bracts colored in shades of red with variable intensity.
  • Eddie's White Wonder : variety of the American flower dogwood. Flowers reliably with white bracts, flowering time in May.

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