Flowering Dogwood
Essential Southern Plant

This tree showcases beautiful flowers, foliage, and berries through most of the year.
Steve Bender
  • Cornaceae
  • Deciduous shrubs and trees and a perennial
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; 9–5
  • Full sun or light shade, except as noted
  • Regular water, except as noted

Native to eastern U.S., from New England to central Florida. Has been called the most beautiful native tree of North America. Blossom is the state flower of North Carolina and Virginia. May reach 40 ft. high and wide, but 20–30 ft. more common. Low branching, with a fairly horizontal branch pattern, upturned branch tips; makes beautiful winter silhouette. Old trees are broadly pyramidal but rather flat topped. Blooms profusely in midspring before leaves expand, almost covering itself with small flower clusters surrounded by four roundish, inch-wide bracts with notched tips. White is the usual color in the wild, but named selections also offer bracts in pink shades to nearly red. Only the white-bracted sorts seem to succeed in Florida, however. Oval leaves, 2–6 in. long, 1/2 in. wide, are bright green above, lighter beneath; they turn glowing red and crimson before they drop. Clusters of small, oval, scarlet fruits last into winter or until birds eat them.

Flowering dogwood grows fine in full sun if planted in deep, fertile soil that retains moisture. In shallow, dry, or rocky soil, it often leaf-scorches badly in summer droughts. Succeeds most reliably as an understory tree where it receives light shade; in heavy shade, it will not bloom. Not browsed by deer.

 

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