The dogwood genus (Cornus spp.) consists of a number of deciduous trees and shrubs, many of which are cultivated in temperate climates across the globe for their small size and showy flowers. Gardeners interested in cultivating dogwood trees have a number of flowering types to choose from.
Also known as Chinese dogwood, kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a flowering dogwood tree that hails from China, Japan and Korea. The tree grows to be between 10 to three feet tall, producing large white flowers which gradually shift in color to pink. The leaves of the tree, which are about three inches across, turn a lush shade of purplish red before dropping in the fall. Kousa dogwood is one of the more cold hardy dogwood species, thriving in USDA zones 5 to 8. For the most flowers, plant the tree in full sunlight. Kousa dogwood is moderately drought-tolerant once established.
A native of the eastern United States, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is also known as American Dogwood or simply dogwood. The tree may grow up to 30 feet tall, though it is more likely to remain at 15 feet. Flowering dogwood offers a wide, dense canopy of foliage and flowers. Flowers appear in early spring and are usually white, although some cultivars offer pink flowers. Flowering dogwood is suitable for USDA zones 5 to 9, where it will look its best in partial sunlight. It will tolerate full sunlight in chillier climates. Though the tree is drought tolerant, supplemental watering will help keep it strong during summer dry periods.
Growing upwards of 30 feet, giant dogwood (Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ ) is a large deciduous tree that offers unique foliage as well as spectacular blooms. Foliage is a variegated creamy white and green, while the flowers of the tree are white and may be as large as seven inches across. Giant dogwood produces dark fruits in the fall, which are highly attractive to birds. The tree is suitable for USDA zones 6 to 9, where it will grow in a variety of conditions including acidic or neutral soils. The tree will tolerate full sunlight and partial sunlight. Avoid overwatering, as this may cause fungal diseases.