Dogwood Tree Growing Tips

Dogwoods perform best when planted in full sun or light to moderate shade as a specimen tree or in a general landscape plan.  The tree is admired and valued by landscapers and homeowners for the nearly year-long attributes, from the flowers (bracts) in spring, to the form and greenery and summer, through the multi-colored fall foliage, often in shades of red-maroon-yellow and more. Your Rutgers hybrid dogwood, once established, will produce a sturdy disease resistant tree to be admired.  However, all trees need to be planted correctly to aid in establishment and provide the growing conditions necessary for producing a healthy root system.  Planting a tree correctly will make it easier for the tree to develop into a strong long lasting specimen.

Start your tree off right by digging a hole that is sufficiently large

For best success with planting suggest digging a hole three times the size of the root ball (container). When the tree is in the ground the top of its root ball must be on the same level as the surrounding area. Planting too deep is a mistake and can affect how well your tree establishes. In most situations adding plenty of peat moss around the root ball is desirable. If your soil is poorly drained, add drainage, plant the tree a little higher, or add some sand so the root ball will not become overly wet from a poorly drained situation.

Pruning to encourage flowering buds

A few years after planting a dogwood can reach a height of ten to twelve feet and a width of eight feet.  You may want to prune your tree once a year in June to encourage a better setting of flowering buds. Remember, this pruning needs to be done in June, as the plant needs not only to make new shoots before the end of the growing season, but also to develop the flowering buds for the following year.  Never prune dogwoods at the end of the winter as one does with many other plants.  By doing so you cut of the flowers (bracts) before they have a chance to open in the spring.

Watering tips

During the first two to three months after planting your Rutgers hybrid dogwood recommend watering the root zone thoroughly two to three times per week.  After establishment dogwoods only require supplemental watering during extended periods of no or limited rainfall.  With long periods - thirty days or more - of drought suggest watering dogwoods once a week, providing sufficient water to re wet the root zone during each watering. 

Spring Flowering Dates

Spring flowering dates may vary from year to year depending on local temperatures where the dogwood tree is growing.  However, the sequence for flowering dates expected with individual dogwood varieties should be similar each year.  Below is a general flowering sequence you can expect from a Rutgers hybrid variety - early to late flowering.

Bloom Time Chart.

Floral bract coloration

Like many flowering plant parts, dogwood floral bracts may show variations in bract shape, color, and other features such as edge and tip coloration during their growth. Young leaves may be more pointy or narrower than mature bracts, for example. Additionally, external factors such as sun, shade, soil (acidity) and weather may affect the bract features. Strong sun and high temperatures may 'bleach' colored tracts of many varieties, some more than others. In some instances, white bracts turn pinkish before dying, or if the weather turns cold. Some pink bracts may appear white in some seasons. Additionally, the famous Fall leaf colorations may vary greatly in different environments and in different years.