Native to the eastern United States woodlands, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) bears showy white bracts in spring. A naturally occurring variant, rubra, bears pink bracts. Horticulturists use this gene to create new varieties with deeper pink to somewhat reddish bracts.
Usually called pink flowering dogwood (Cornus florida var. rubra), the depth of pink pigmentation among individual plants varies. Each cluster of tiny greenish yellow true flowers is surrounded by four pale pink to rosy pink bracts. Occasionally mutations create an even deeper pink pigmentation, or breeders manipulate plants to yield bracts that look almost coral to red.
Among recent introductions that display deep pink to red bracts are the cultivars Cherokee Chief, Cherokee Sunset and Red Beauty. Selection Red Cloud makes dark rosy pink bracts. None produce scarlet or blood red bracts, but different light intensity across the day creates bracts with varying shades of coral-red to red-rose.
Pink or red-flowering dogwood trees require the same cultural needs as the common white flowering type. Plant in a moist, well-drained, acidic soil rich in organic matter in a partial sun exposure. In hot summer climates, shade from the midday and afternoon sun ensures the best growth and quality of foliage. Grow them in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 through 9a.