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Dogwood Trees: History, Facts, and Growing Tips

Dogwood Trees: History, Facts, and Growing Tips

Spring is in full swing! And April showers bring May flowers. Well, there are also a few early bloomers. Like Redbuds, the Jane Magnolia, and Cherry Blossom trees, for example. But there is one tree variety with large, fragrant blooms that’s stealing the show: Dogwood Trees.

They’re more than just large, fragrant blooms – they have a rich history and different varieties that are natively found all over the world. Dogwood flowers are even the state flower of North Carolina and Virginia. Let’s get into all the facts about Dogwood Trees:

Dogwood History

While Dogwood Trees 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.

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.

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

The cultivation of Dogwood Trees to be used as ornamentals started around the 1730s. People were taking notice of the 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.

And the excitement of these bright blooms every spring has led to many Dogwood festivals across the country.

Dogwood Care

Remember that Dogwood Trees 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 they 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 rainfall your plants are receiving.

Also, 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.

Fertilizer usually isn’t necessary for Dogwood Trees, unless you know that your yard is lacking in nutrients. 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. Ensure you thin the center of your tree to allow more air circulation which can prevent molds, fungi and mildews from growing.


Dogwood Trees: Must-Have Elegance

Dogwood Trees are extremely easy to grow in a variety of different climates. Their large, bright blooms will let you know that spring has officially sprung! These trees have been a classic American favorite for years, and the time to plant them is now. Don’t hesitate to honor their rich history and provide your yard with year-round color!


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