The flowering dogwood produces showy pink or white flower bracts in spring and rich, green foliage throughout summer. Dogwoods are usually planted in the yard from nursery grown seedlings, so the saplings are used to optimum soil and site conditions. Emulating these considerations as best as possible at planting helps ensure the continued health of your dogwood.
In the wild, flowering dogwoods grow as an understory tree near the fringes of wooded areas. The nearby trees protect the dogwoods from wind and storm damage by providing a protective screen. In the home landscape, choose areas where other landscape plants or buildings provide a wind block on the side that winds–particularly winter winds–usually blow.
Dogwoods need sunlight in order to grow full and lush and also to flower profusely. Too much sunlight can burn and damage the trees however. In its natural habitat, dogwoods receive dappled sunlight throughout the day. This can be hard to emulate in a landscape planting. If dappled sunlight isn’t an option, plant the dogwood in an area that receives full morning sun and some shade in the afternoon.
Choose a planting area that has well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.2 and 6.0. Loam soils are best for flowering dogwoods. These trees have a shallow root system that is protected in wild areas by a deep layer of fallen leaves from surrounding trees. Emulate this in the yard by applying a thick layer of mulch over the soil after planting. Mulch helps retain moisture and protects the roots from damage.
While dogwoods thrive in moist soils, soggy soils will choke the roots and lead to rot. In areas where standing water is a problem, build up a raised bed of rich, organic soil prior to planting. Frequent watering may be necessary in areas that drain quickly and tend to dry out.