Our Most Spectacular Native Tree

Close up of dogwood flowers

Pink dogwood flower

Beautiful old layered specimen

A young pink dogwood about 5 years old

This is a great year for dogwoods. Our woodland edges are sprinkled with their white blooms now, and in older Birmingham neighborhoods they dot home landscapes. It has been many years since I have had one in my garden, and quite frankly I do not know why. It has to be one of our best small trees with beautiful flowers, colorful fall foliage, bright red fruit clusters and buds that are like white dots that cover the trees in winter. With so many characteristics why is it not popular in new landscapes today? I think it is because they have been ignored by many garden designers and nurserymen. They prefer the same type of location you see them along the woodland edges as you drive our interstates. There are many named selections, and the pink flowering types are almost gaudy in bloom. So here is the key thing to know when adding one to your garden. They like fertile well drained soil with high filtered shade but will also do okay in full sun (but it does stress them when they are young). Since they are not deeply rooted, they must be watered during dry periods until they are established. One thing I have noticed is that they are not fast growers when they are young. Be sure to mulch them well and lightly fertilize with a product like 15-0-15 after they finish flowering. So for me I have decided to add a dogwood to my garden this year, why don’t you?

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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