Spring is in full swing! You know that saying, April showers bring May flowers! Well amidst our April showers there are early spring bloomers. Like Redbuds, the Jane Magnolia, and Cherry Blossom trees are looking and smelling great for example. There is one tree variety with large fragrant blooms that’s stealing the show. Dogwood Trees have started opening their blossoms to become spring super stars!

They’re more than just large fragrant blooms, they have a rich history and different varieties are natively found all over the world. Dogwood flowers are even the state flower of, North Carolina and Virginia. Also, Flowering Dogwoods are the state tree for Missouri. Let’s get into all the facts about Dogwood Trees with the history and care!

Dogwood History

iStock_000005796756SmallWhile Dogwoods have been around for generations, the English language developed the phrase, “Dogtree” for them in 1548. It derived from the word “Dagwood” because slender stems were used for making narrow items, like dags or daggers, arrows, and skewers. Basically small items that needed hard wood. Later in 1614 the name changed to Dogwood.

Some suggest that the tree was called the Dogwood because when the wind blows and the branches knock together it sounds like a dog barking. Also, to treat skin conditions like mange in dogs, people boiled the wood in water, then washed their dogs in the Dogwood water.

iStock_000004579006SmallWhile in Europe the wood of Dogwoods was being used for items like arrows and the first types of tennis rackets, Native Americans were using Dogwoods for a variety of things as well. Many Indians used Dogwoods for making toothbrushes, as well as daggers and arrows like Europeans. Dogwoods were seen as lucky, and masculine. Males often ate Dogwood berries in religious ceremonies. The bark and roots were used for medicines and dyes. However, the sap is toxic and was often used as poison among some tribes!

Also, Native Americans used inner Dogwood bark in a special tobacco mixture, used in sacred pipes. When Dogwoods busted with blooms they signaled that it was time for Native American’s to plant corn. This is our favorite Dogwood Tree use! It meant that winter ended, and the growing season had begun!

Dogwoods as Ornamental Trees

Dogwood-StreetThe cultivation of Dogwoods to be used as beautiful ornamental trees started around the 1730s. People were taking notice of Dogwood’s compact size, large blooms in pink, red, and white, and weaving, curvy branches.

Thomas Jefferson actually encouraged the growth of Dogwood Trees at his home in Monticello, Virginia. This led to this tree taking off in popularity. Many Southern states encourage using Dogwoods as beautiful landscaping trees.

kousaThe excitement of these bright blooms every spring has led to many Dogwood festivals located across many states. Each with their own unique traditions. Some feature BBQs, concerts, golf tournaments and more.

The festival in Atlanta features a huge 5k! In the Dogwood Trails celebration in Texas you can have brunch at the Texas State Railroad. In Kentucky there’s a lighted Dogwood trail that can be enjoyed in the evening by foot, car, or even trolley. If you get a Spring break visiting one of these celebrations would be a great way to spend it. Nothing is better than warm weather and spring celebrations!

Dogwood Care

PinkDogwoodFlower220When looking for a place to plant your Dogwood tree remember that Dogwoods enjoy partial shade. They can tolerate full sun, but prefer receiving dappled shade during the day. They grow in the wild in shaded hardwood forests, so it’s very natural for them to thrive without full sun.

Dogwood trees will adapt to your natural soil, even if it’s sandy or heavy in clay. However, they do benefit from soil that’s slightly acidic. You can amend your soil by adding a little organic matter to it. Keep your soil moist, but not oversaturated. Dogwoods are pretty drought tolerant, but will need some water during times of prolonged heat and droughts.

Every few days feel the soil around your trees, if it’s close to drying out then give your tree a slow deep watering. Pay attention to the weather in your area to have an idea of how much rain fall your plants are receiving.

Spreading a 3 inch layer of mulch around the base of your trees will help your soil retain moisture. Mulch will also prevent weeds and grass from growing under your trees, which can steal nutrients from them.

Red-DogwoodFertilizer usually isn’t necessary for Dogwood trees, unless you know that your yard is lacking in nutrients. You can find how much nutrients your lawn has with a basic soil testing kit found in local gardening stores. If you find that your soil isn’t acidic you can give it some food that’s for Holly trees or an acid loving shrub. Dogwoods also can benefit from fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen. If you need to fertilize your trees, fertilize them in the early spring and again in the early fall.

Prune your Dogwoods in the early spring, before your tree breaks dormancy. Pruning Dogwoods can help shape them and improve their health. With a sharp and sterile pair of loppers or hand pruners remove any dead or damaged branches. Also, remove any branches that are touching or rubbing together. This way they won’t have unclean breaks on their own. Thin the center of your tree to allow more air circulation which can prevent molds, fungi and mildews from growing.

Dogwood Berries?

Dogwood-BerriesThe attractive look of Dogwood Bark and bright showy blooms often cause the fact that these trees produce berries to go unnoticed. The berries grow over the winter and can vary in color and size. They can be white, red, or blue. They can be very small, or the size of raspberries.

Even though some Native Americans used to eat the berries we don’t recommend doing so. They can cause gas and stomach pains. Some believe the berries are toxic. Birds and small wildlife enjoy eating them, and they make an excellent winter food source for small wildlife.

Don’t Go on Without Dogwood Color

Dogwood trees are extremely easy to grow in a variety of different climates. There even might be some growing naturally in wooded areas near your home. Their large bright blooms will let you know that spring has officially sprung! They have multiple deep green leaves in the summer. In the fall many different types of Dogwood trees provide beautiful fall foliage before their leaves drop. Their textured grey trunks stand out against the snow in the winter, not to mention you might get a glimpse of red berries before the birds eat them all. These trees have been a classic American favorite for years. The time to plant them is now! Don’t hesitate to honor their rich history and provide your yard with year around color.

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12 years ago I was sitting around, talking with two of my favorite, fellow Plant Geeks. We were trying to figure out why so many, superior plant varieties were not available to the public and were seldom offered in Garden Centers. Instead, the stores sold less attractive, older varieties, proven to be disease and insect prone. They also sold the sprays and chemicals that their customers would eventually need. The Ah Ha moment hit us and a company was formed. We decided that we would only offer the highest quality plants that must be Easy to Grow.
  • Boivar Joseph Atanasio

    Why do you not accept orders originating in California for California planting?

    • AllisonTrees

      We do accept orders from California. California has a few strict guidelines and rules set in place that prevent us from shipping a few different plants there, but Dogwood trees can be shipped to CA.

  • Boivar Joseph Atanasio

    Name correction: Should read as: Bolivar not….. Boivar

  • Pingback: Unique Early Blooming Trees For Spring | Fast-Growing-Trees.com Blog()

  • Nitcha Mason

    This is the third Spring for our dogwood tree. Still no flowers on tree. What could be wrong ??

    • Betsy Ferro Brooks

      When should they be planted?

  • Dianne L Carmody

    I have a branch that broke off our dogwood tree. Can I plant it, if so do I put it in water to grow roots?

  • Casey

    I just purchased a Kousa dogwood with the intention of planting it in a bed by my front porch. That area gets sun from about 11 AM till 7 PM. Would this NOT be a good place to plant it? I really want it to flower next spring. I really love Kousas. Also, how will pruning to keep it small affect the tree?

    • Amanda

      Your Kousa Dogwood should be just fine planted there! You’ll just need to make sure it gets enough water since it will be in full sun. Dogwood trees possess very shallow root systems that are susceptible to drying out in the absence of regular rainfall. It is best to water your tree once or twice a week. Be sure, though, to water correctly. Light green leaves are a sign of over watering, while drooping leaves signify both over watering and under watering. Watch for these and any other signs that your tree is getting too much or too little water.

      As for pruning, it should only be done once the flowering cycle is complete (end of spring). Avoid any fall pruning as that will eliminate the next year’s blooms. Only prune away any damaged, diseased or dead branches, and then thin it as needed to ensure the sunlight and air circulation reach the entire tree.

      • Casey

        Amanda, thanks for that info. will give it a try. I will be mulching it heavily to help conserve moisture as well.

  • Jim pinnix

    I planted a dogwood about 6 weeks ago and it’s not doing well the leaves are half brown and falling off what can cause this? The tree is showing signs of new growth but I’m afraid it will die off to if I don’t do something

  • jaimini patel

    Hi, I bought dogwood tree last year and planted in late fall but there are no leaves on tree, I need some help what could be wrong.

    • Amanda

      Hi there! We’re sorry to hear that. To determine if your plant is still living, scratch a small area of bark on the base of the trunk. You can rub it with a coin or fingernail. If you see brown or black underneath, then the tree is dead. If you see green, then the tree is alive.

  • Paula

    I have a dogwood next to my driveway and the roots are growing above ground and I have placed a watering tube deep to try and get the roots to go back down but it doesn’t seem to be working they seem to be getting closer to the driveway and I’m worried they will ruin the driveway anyone have any ideas? By the way I am in Oregon Salem to be exact.

    • Amanda

      Hi Paula! Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent the roots from growing. It might be best to get a local Arborist to come evaluate your tree. It’s possible they can cut any offending roots, as long as they aren’t too large. Installing root barriers may also help.

  • Rita Thomas

    My fogwood tree is dead but I’ve always heard it was bad luck to cut down a dogwood,help.

  • Debra Thorpe

    Hi there, I have several pink dogwoods in pots and they are doing very well. My question is what to do with them during winter. I live in N California at 4000ft elevation, we get quite a bit of snow and the temps can get to 0 degrees often.

    • Amanda

      Hello Debra! Pink Dogwoods can handle temperatures down to growing zone 5. Your specific growing zone is determined by your zip code. If you are in a location that is lower than growing zone 5, you may move your containers indoors during extreme weather conditions.

  • Cerise Woods

    Did the Indians ever use it as a poison reducer? Like the Indians Of Town Creek Mound used black tea immediately? I wonder if they used to smash the berried and use them as a cut healer or..Hair gel>I know that sounds crazy but, Didn’t they have to keep their hair long or short?

    • Amanda

      We only know Dogwoods to be seen as lucky and masculine in Native American tribes. Males often ate the berries in religious ceremonies. The bark and roots were used for medicines and dyes. However, the sap is toxic and was often used as poison among some tribes!

  • Cerise Woods

    My grandpa also has a dogwood wood tree that has been alive for a long time, (before I was born) I am 20) and It is growing over his house and if we cut it, The whole thing might fall down and ruin his house, Help please. 🙂

  • Nathan David

    I bet the dogwood got it’s name from its growth habit, because dogwoods grow at the feet of larger trees just like dogs live at the feet of man.

  • Irene

    are Dogwoods difficult to grow and care for in southern California being that we are in perpetual summer?

  • Kathy

    I just ordered a a red dogwood tree from
    you order #9236387. I want to know when I can plant this tree in zone 7 at 4500 ft.
    Thank you.

  • Kathy

    I purchased a red dogwood from you and I want to know when I can plant it in zone 7 at 4500 ft.

  • Chelby R. Mather

    I’m planning to get a dogwood tree for our yard but the spot I what to plant it in gets full sun until around 6pm-ish. It also gets a bit swampy sometimes when it rain’s heavy like 1-4 inches deep. Also we have a dog so is it true that dogwood’s or at least the berries are bad for them??

  • Lisa Brigandi-Pawczuk

    can you grow dogwoods from cuttings ? in water or dirt to get them to root ? i am in TN.