How to Grow Flowering Dogwood Trees From Seed

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Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a popular landscape ornamental. Dogwood trees bloom in mid-March in the south and mid-May in the north in a profusion of white, pink or red flowers. Flowering dogwood is a low-maintenance but short-lived tree that is hardy to USDA zones 5 to 8b. Start the flowering dogwood seeds in the fall.

Difficulty:
Moderate

Instructions

Things You’ll Need
  • Plastic sandwich bag
  • Glass jar
  • Silica gel packet
  • Paper bag
  • Coarse builder’s sand
  • Newspapers
  • Vermiculite
  • Egg carton
  • Spoons
  • Plant misting bottle
  • Plastic dishpans or other containers
  • Seed starting mix
  • Peat pots
  • Plastic pots
    1. Place the flowering dogwood seeds in a plastic bag and place the bag into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Throw a silica gel packet in and close the jar. Place the jar in the refrigerator.
    2. Remove the seeds from the refrigerator in late April or early May. Place them in the paper bag with 1/2 to 1 cup of coarse builder’s sand. Close the bag and shake it for 30 seconds.
    3. Place a layer of newspapers on a table or the kitchen counter. Pour 1 cup of vermiculite into a container and run hot water over it. Pour the vermiculite onto the newspaper and allow it to sit for five minutes.
    4. Add the vermiculite to the egg carton, filling each depression 3/4 full. Place one flowering dogwood seed on the surface of the vermiculite in each cell and cover them with vermiculite until they are barely covered. Lightly mist the surface of each cell with lukewarm water and mist every other morning.
    5. Continue to mist the vermiculite as the seeds germinate, which should occur in three weeks. Transplant the seedlings into 2-inch peat pots when they have their third set of leaves.
    6. Place newspapers on a table or other work surface. Add seed starting mix to a container and pour warm water over it. Stir the mix until it is evenly moist. Place the soil on the newspaper and allow it to dry for five minutes.
    7. Moisten the peat pots by dipping them in a pan filled with room-temperature water. Fill each one halfway with soil. Lift the flowering dogwood seedlings from the egg carton, using a spoon, and place the roots on top of the soil in the peat pot. Pack more of the moist soil over the roots until the peat pot is full. Spray the surface of the soil in each pot with lukewarm water.
    8. Place the peat pots in a shallow pan in an area that has bright light, but out of direct sunlight. Mist the soil every day with lukewarm water. Water the peat pots every two days by dipping them in a tub filled with lukewarm water. Dip each pot two times, being careful to keep the water from running into the pot.
    9. Fertilize the flowering dogwood seedlings once a week with a 20-20-20 formula, diluted to 1/3 the rate suggested on the label. Continue dipping the pots in lukewarm water every two days.
    10. Transplant the flowering dogwood seedlings into 3-inch plastic pots when they have their second set of leaves. Use the seeding mix and prepare it as you did for the peat pots and transplant the seedlings in the same manner, using a spoon to scoop them out of the peat pots.
    11. Fertilize the seedlings every other week with the same dilution of 20-20-20 fertilizer and keep the soil moist.
    12. Transplant the flowering dogwood seedlings into 4-inch pots after two months, using the same soil and procedure as previously used. Fertilize bi-weekly but dilute the 20-20-20 formula to half the strength recommended on the label. Continue to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
    13. Move the plants into 6-inch pots in late summer and place them outdoors in an area that is protected from wind and receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Allow them to remain over the fall and winter. Keep the soil moist but discontinue feeding the plants. Plant them in their permanent locations in mid-spring.

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