The red flowering dogwood, also called sweetwater red, is a beautiful addition to any landscape. For two to three weeks in the spring, the spreading branches are filled with deep-red or dark-pink blossoms. In the fall, the leaves turn bright crimson. The red flowering dogwood is native to North America and grows in the middle regions of the United States.
The red flowering dogwood grows to a height range of 15 to 30 feet and the branches spread 20 to 30 feet in circumference. The cone-shaped tree has wide branches tapering to a rounded top. The lowest branches dip nearly to the ground. Trees unpruned early develop multiple trunks.
The red flowering dogwood’s blossoms have four rounded petals with notches on the outer tip. The petals are typically a dark red or pink at the outer edges and white in the center. The flower’s center has a cluster of tiny yellow buds.
Red flowering dogwoods are deciduous, meaning that the leaves change colors in the fall and fall off in the winter. The 2- to 4-inchoval shaped leaves are green in the summer and bright red in the fall.
After the blossoms fall off, the branches have clusters of tiny red berries that attract birds. The berries are not tasty, but they are not poisonous.
Red flowering dogwoods grow best in partial shade, although they will grow in full sun or heavy shade. Moist, acidic, well-drained soil with a slight alkaline content is the best growth medium. Soils heavy in sand, loam or clay are ideal. The tree does not grow well in coastal areas where the air has a high salt content.
Red flowering dogwoods attract several common varieties of pests, including aphids, borers, dogwood club gall midges, leaf miners, twig girdlers and scales. Nonchemical pest control methods include pruning damaged areas, spraying pests with a water hose and using horticultural oil during the winter. Keep the tree healthy with adequate irrigation and regular fertilizing.