Dogwoods are by and large deciduous woody trees of the genus, Cornus and the family, Cornaceae. The genus Cornus includes about 30 to 50 species of plants, of which some are shrubs. Some dogwood species are herbaceous perennial plants, while others are evergreen.
The species that is mostly preferred for gardening and landscaping purposes is the flowering dogwood tree. The scientific name of this species is Cornus florida. The flowering dogwood tree can be termed as one of the most popular ornamental plants, native to the Eastern United States. What makes this tree so special is its unique branching structure, and the exotic spring blossoms, for which it is cherished by all.
It is a deciduous tree, that can grow to a height of about 33 feet, with a trunk diameter of about 30 cm. The tree can reach a width of 35 feet at maturity. The leaves are oval-shaped, and are arranged oppositely on the branches. In autumn, the leaves turn purple giving the tree a striking look. However, the main attraction of this flowering tree is its lovely spring blossoms, which are usually white or yellow in color. There are several equally beautiful cultivars of this tree, which produce attractive pink and red blossoms in spring.
However, the actual flowers are very small and inconspicuous. They are usually greenish-yellow in color with four petals, and occur in clusters at the center of the four large and colorful bracts. The bracts look like petals, and they give the flowers their exotic look. The flowers appear in spring and remain for 2 to 3 weeks. The flowering season is soon followed by the fruiting season, and so, the clusters of bright-red colored fruits appear in autumn.
Care and Maintenance
In their natural habitat, dogwoods thrive in partially-shaded and moist areas, usually under the canopy of the larger trees of the forest. So, proper plant care begins with the selection of a suitable planting site. Usually, partially-shaded areas having nutrient rich soil are considered ideal for growing this tree. Arid conditions are not suitable for this tree. So, be sure to keep the soil moist.
In general, slightly acidic, humus-rich, and well-drained soil is considered ideal for the growth of this tree. This flowering tree has a shallow root system, and this is the reason why, one has to be very particular about regular watering. Proper and regular watering is crucial during the dry season, especially if the tree is planted in a place that is exposed to direct sunlight for the entire day.
Like watering, it is important to fertilize the soil at regular intervals. You can apply mulch once in every year to make the soil rich in organic matter. You can use peat moss, compost, and even leaf mold for this purpose. If you want to go for the chemical fertilizer, then apply a diluted fertilizer in spring. Fertilizers should be used only when the tree has completed one year.
Dogwoods do not require frequent pruning. In fact, unnecessary pruning can inhibit blooming. In general, pruning once in a year is sufficient. While pruning the tree, remove all damaged, diseased, and drooping branches, along with the branches that cross one another.
Dogwoods are vulnerable to fungus and diseases like leaf blight, powdery mildew, and dogwood anthracnose. Such fungal diseases can necessitate the application of fungicides. The best way to prevent such diseases is to inspect the plant at regular intervals for the growth of fungus. As far as the application of fungicides is concerned, talk to an expert in this filed regarding the appropriate dosage.
To sum up, dogwoods do require some care and maintenance to thrive properly. However, these amazing trees really deserves a little bit of care, as their beautiful and delicate blossoms can create a truly fascinating sight to behold in spring.