How to Flower a Dogwood Tree


Flowering dogwood trees provide cool shade, while the flowers add an ornamental quality to the tree in spring. Dogwood flowers are either white or pink, then drop to reveal deep green leaves throughout summer that change to scarlet in fall. Dogwoods fail to flower for many reasons, though the most common are that they aren’t receiving the proper fertilization, sunlight or water. Ensure your dogwood receives the the best care so that it thrives and flowers each spring.

Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning saw
  • Insect and fungal controls
    1. Apply a 3-inch layer of shredded bark mulch around the tree in fall and replenish it in spring. Mulching preserves soil moisture and protects the shallow roots of the dogwood from freezing air in winter. Leave a 2-inch space between the mulch and the trunk, otherwise insects or rodents may use the mulch as cover while they chew on the tree bark.
    2. Water enough to supply 1 inch of water per week. Include natural precipitation amounts when determining if supplemental watering is needed to reach the 1 inch level. Avoid over-watering. If the soil is soggy, dogwoods may not flower and instead develop fungus or rot issues.
    3. Fertilize once the tree is 6 feet high. Use ΒΌ cup of 12-4-8 tree fertilizer per dogwood in late winter before buds form and again at mid-summer. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this may inhibit the formation of colored bracts that make up the dogwood flower.
    4. Prune dogwoods in late winter while the trees are still dormant. Cut off only damaged and diseased branches. Pruning too late may open the tree to infection or result in removal of the flowering branches.
    5. Check the leaves for fungal damage, such as leaf spots or powdery residue. Also inspect for signs of insect damage or white larvae, which signify a borer-insect infection. Treat immediately with the proper chemical control or the tree will not flower and likely die.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant dogwood trees in partial shade where they aren’t exposed to high winds, especially in winter when drying may prevent the dogwood from flowering.

  • The flowers of dogwood are really pale green. The visible white part is actually a modified leaf called a bract that surrounds the flowers.

  • Dogwoods are very sensitive to wet soil or too much sun. Transplant dogwoods when they are dormant in winter to a more suitable area if these conditions are an issue.

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