Grumpy Gardener's Guide to Dogwoods

Grumpy Gardener Steve Bender shares tips and tricks on how to plant and care for one of the South's favorite plants.


[MUSIC] And now, the Grumpy Gardener. Hi, I'm Steve Bender, I'm Southern Living's Grumpy Gardener. [SOUND] [BLANK_AUDIO] Probably one of the most beloved trees that we have for spring flowers in the south is the dogwood. And, one of the things that makes a dogwood so special, is that it doesn't just give you one season of interest, it gives you multiple seasons. In the Spring you get the beautiful flowers that last a long time. And in the fall, the foliage will turn that beautiful burgundy red color, and then also in the winter-time it'll have red berries, which feed the birds and they also look pretty in themselves. Dogwood is, is a fairly easy tree to grow as long as you have the right conditions. It likes to have good well-drained acid soil with a lot of organic matter. If you have good soil, you can grow it in full sun and that's where you'll get the most flowers. But, it will also take partial shade as well. In general, these are pretty maintenance free trees, they don't need a whole lot of pruning. I'd say if your gonna prune them, the time to do that is right after they finish flowering in Spring, because they bloom on the previous season's growths. So if you prune them right after they finish flowering they will have time to make flower buds. For next year. If you wanna know, whether you have flower buds on a dogwood, you need to just look at the buds, and the ones that are, their flower buds look like little biscuits. Like round little biscuits, and that'll tell you, if you're gonna go out and buy one, whether you're gonna get blooms that year. also, if you go to the garden center and you wanna make sure you're gonna get beautiful flowers, you'll find that some of them, the cheapos, just have tags that says, pink dogwood, or white, when they won't give you a name. Those things are just basically grown in the field, and you could get anything. Really. They could be great bloomers, they could be sparse bloomers. If you wanna be guaranteed that you're gonna get good blooms with a dogwood, you need to buy a named selection. Something like, there's one, there's the white one called cloud nine. And what makes that one so great is that thing will start blooming at three feet tall. So, if you buy a named selection. You're almost guaranteed you're gonna get a better tree than if you just go out and buy something that says pink or white. The most common one that you'll see out there has white flowers. I always liked the one that has pink flowers. But you see, our former editor never would let me write about those because he didn't like the color pink. But guess what? He retired last year. So my advice is everybody plant a pink dogwood. No, just don't plant one pink dogwood. Plant three or five or seven. Plant them up and down the street. Plant them in your front yard. Plant them in your living room. Plant them in your bathroom, plant them all over the place. Let's have pink dogwoods lining every neighborhood throughout the South. It'll be just like that John Mellencamp song, you know, America, home of the free, little pink dogwoods for you and me. You can find out everything you need to know about Southern gardening in Southern Living Magazine, and at
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