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Dogwood General Care

Dogwood trees bloom in the early spring for 2-4 months. Their flowers come in tones of white, red, and pink. During the summer their leaves turn a rich green and during the fall they turn a darker reddish-purple color. Red berries are often seen on Dogwood trees during the wintertime.

Planting Dogwood Trees
Dogwoods prefer partial shade, although they can still grow in sun or shade. They are understory trees, which means they like to be surrounded by other, larger trees. If grown in full sun, it makes them more susceptible to Dogwood borers due to heat stress. They will also require more frequent watering during hot weather.
Dogwoods prefer well-drained soil that is rich in humus and slightly acidic.
These trees should be planted at a depth of approximately 2/3 the depth of the root ball. Gently mound the soil around the sides of said root ball and do not cover the top of the root ball with soil.
Burlap/bare root Dogwood trees can be transplanted in late fall or early spring. Container grown trees are able to be transplanted any time of the year as long as they are watered regularly until their roots can establish properly.

Watering, Mulching & Fertilizing Dogwood Trees
After planting a Dogwood tree, make sure that it is watered on a regular basis (once weekly approximately 6 inches deep).
A 1–2-inch layer of shredded/chipped wood mulch can be added to help retain moisture and help to keep watering less often. Make sure that the mulch is at least 2 inches away from the trunk of the tree.
Small, young Dogwoods do not have to be fertilized, but it must be slow-release fertilizer in small amounts.

Pruning Dogwood Trees
Pruning is not necessary on a regular basis, just when there are dead/injured branches that need removing. Shaping Dogwoods will help keep them more attractive and put together. If you want to prune your Dogwood, it is recommended that you do so in the summer so that sap bleeding will be at a minimum.

Sap Bleeding in Dogwoods
Dogwood trees are known as “bleeders,” which means they will release sap when injured (i.e., broken branches due to high winds/storms). If you notice your Dogwood “bleeding,” leave it be so that it can heal properly (much like a human’s skin scabbing over). The “bleeding” also aids in flower production.

Water Dripping in Dogwood Trees
Different from the sap “bleeding” is dripping in a watery sense. This can be due to pests such as aphids, ants, scale insects, and borers.
Aphids are tiny green bugs that release a honeydew substance and suck the sap from Dogwood trees. Neem oil is one of the easiest ways to control aphids, as well as organic control.
Carpenter ants are another pest that feed on rotting wood. If you notice small holes in your Dogwood that fill with water, chances are Carpenter ants have taken up residence due to easy food. It’s recommended to go ahead and remove the infected tree before the ants move to your other plants.
Scale insects are small bugs that eat the sap of Dogwood trees, much like aphids, and like aphids, secrete honeydew. These bugs tend to be more damaging and come in cycles, and can be mistaken for peeling bark due to the way they mass onto the tree branches. Insecticidal soap is the most common remedy to these pests.
Dogwood borers are small caterpillars that eat into the tree trunk, leaving tunnels. These tunnels may cause the bark to peel up and seem like it is infected. These bugs are attracted to older and weaker trees that have lots of moisture and water dripping. Dogwood borers are much harder to get rid of, so you may want to remove the tree completely or talk to your local horticulturist for information.

Bark Peeling in Dogwood Tree
Normal bark peeling on Dogwoods can come from animals rubbing their antlers on the trunk, or small rodents chewing on the tree. Another reason your Dogwood’s bark may be peeling is sunscald. This can be avoided by planting where winter sun won’t affect the tree as much or painting the lower trunk with latex paint thinned with water. If there has recently been a drought, this can cause the bark to crack near the base of the tree. Make sure to water your tree during dry spells.
Disease-caused bark peeling can come from Dogwood Anthracnose/Branch/Crown Canker (evidence is yellowed leaves, dieback in twigs, discolored areas of tree meat). Basal Trunk Canker, along with splitting and loss of bark, can cause lesions that will drip large amounts of sap and damage the tree. Contacting your local arborist would be a good idea if you encounter this issue.