80502Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, seems like it should be more popular here than it is. It blooms spectacularly in April. The foliage can color nicely in autumn. Mature trees are proportionate to medium sized or smaller suburban gardens. However, the limiting factor to their popularity in the local climate is that they are understory trees that prefer to be in the partial shade of larger trees.

They certainly do not need to be shaded all day. Nearby trees or tall buildings that shelter them during the hottest part of the afternoon might be sufficient. Foliage that is too exposed gets roasted by hot sunshine or drying breezes while the weather is warm, especially if exposure is enhanced by glare from nearby walls or pavement. Otherwise, flowering dogwood is not overly demanding.

The abundant white, pink or rarely brick red bloom is actually comprised of modified colorful leaves known as bracts. Each cluster of tiny green flowers is surrounded by four upward facing bracts. Simple paired deciduous leaves develop after bloom. The leaves of some cultivars are variegated with white or yellow. Mature trees can reach upstairs eaves but typically stay lower and broader.


10 thoughts on “Flowering Dogwood

  1. Dogwoods are one of my favourite trees, especially Cornus florida! It’s such a shame that they are susceptible to anthracnose! Have you had any problems with your trees? We are growing Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’ and had fruit for the first time this year. It appears to be healthy enough, though like hydrangeas performs the dying swan act on our hot dry days!!! A long stiff drink seems to sort it out!

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  2. The only place I’ve seen them grow successfully is in the Blue Mountains are west of Sydney where they seem to do quite well. Of course it’s milder and wetter there.

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    1. Yes, relative to other dogwoods. Although they are not fast growing trees relative to poplars or willows, they are the fastest of the dogwoods, and can get quite tall in just five years. They are not large trees. They slow down as they mature. They sometimes seem to grow faster than they can support. Some of our stock trees lean toward the sun from the weight of the bloom and foliage, so need to be pruned. I prefer to prune them in winter, but some of the dogwoods get left through winter so that we can prune blooming branches, and bring them in.


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