How to Plant a Flowering Dogwood Seedling

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The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is judged by many to be one of the most beautiful flowering trees found in North America. Because of its scarlet autumn foliage, bright red berries and springtime blossoms, flowering dogwood has a place in many lawns and broader landscapes. If you wish to plant a dogwood seedling, selecting the best growing area will significantly improve its chances of survival.

Difficulty:
Moderate

Instructions

Things You’ll Need
  • Garden shovel or spade
  • Garden knife or case cutter
  1. Select an area that receives minimal amounts of sunlight. Dogwoods grow best in shady to partially shady locations protected from heat and harsh sunlight. The soil should be cool, humus-rich, moist and well-drained. This is exactly where a dogwood would likely be found growing in the wild.
  2. Dig a hole approximately twice the diameter of the root ball. The hole should also be about the same depth as the height of the root ball.
  3. Stand the seedling in the center of the hole. Be certain it is standing straight up and does not lean. The base of the seedling’s trunk should be even with the soil line. If the hole is too deep or too shallow, add soil or make the hole slightly deeper, respectively.
  4. Cut several long vertical slits into the sides of the balling material. The slits will provide exit points for the roots as the tree becomes established.
  5. Backfill the hole with the soil you previously removed. As you shovel the soil back in, pause periodically and tamp the soil firmly into place. This removes any trapped air.
  6. Water the tree. Do not simply mist it. Give the ground a thorough soaking.
  7. Monitor the newly planted seedling and continue to water it thoroughly whenever the soil appears to be drying out. You may need to continue regular watering for at least the first full year until the tree becomes well-established.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to the USDA Plant Guide for the species, bare-rooted flowering dogwood seedlings have significantly lower chances off survival than burlap balled specimens.

  • The bark of the flowering dogwood is thin and delicate. Take special care not to wound the tree with a string trimmer, as this will expose it to potential fungal infections.

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