Planting Dogwoods

Cornus, or dogwoods, are beautiful additions to the landscape and the many different types of dogwood shrubs to choose from means that everyone is sure to find one that works best for them, and their garden. These shrubs generally carry four season interest with periods of flowering in the spring, and foliage that changes with the seasons.

What You Need To Plant Dogwoods

  • Shovel
  • Compost or manure
  • Good location
  • Water source
  • Mulch

Where to Plant Dogwoods

Dogwoods benefit from being planted in moist soil, and can even thrive in clay or areas that don’t drain as well. A place that gets morning sun, with partial shade is ideal for dogwoods to avoid intense afternoon sun that may dry the plant out. An area with soil that’s high in organic matter, or has been treated with compost will be best. 

Dogwood Spacing

Though this is a flexible threshold based upon how big mature shrubs grow, dogwoods should be spaced anywhere from three to four feet apart, to five to ten feet apart if a bit of space to grow is desired. It should be kept in mind that typically most dogwood shrubs grow about two feet per year in a mounded fashion. Typically spacing depends on whether a hedge-like orientation is desired or not.

Steps To Plant Dogwoods

  1. Scout for a location with full morning sun, but protected from intense afternoon heat.

  1. It’s best to dig a hole that’s three times as wide as the root ball, and about as deep as the root section of the dogwood. 

  1. If heavy clay soil, it’s best to amend by adding compost or manure to the soil and mixing it in.

  1. Once the hole is dug and soil prepared, grasp the tree at the base of its trunk and pull, being careful to keep roots intact and damage as few as possible.

  1. Place the root ball in the hole, and fill with amended soil until the hole is halfway full.

  1. Now, it’s time to soak the root ball. 

  1. Once the root ball is wet, surround with soil until the edge of the rootball. Avoid covering the root ball with any additional soil.

  1. Water the fully filled hole.

  1. It’s often beneficial to retain moisture and suppress weeds if you can add a layer of mulch at the base of the newly planted tree.

When to Plant Dogwoods

The best time of the year to plant dogwoods is in the early Fall. Early Spring would be the next best option, once the ground has thawed. Planting dogwoods in the summer is not recommended, as they will dry out easily and be vulnerable to overheating and sun damage.

Transplanting Dogwoods

Since dogwoods have shallow, widespread root systems it may be beneficial to attempt to loosen and free roots with a digging fork. Dogwoods should be transplanted when they are dormant, after leaves have dropped but before buds have emerged. Dogwood can be grown from cuttings. Cuttings should be three to five inches long and begin about an inch below a set of leaves. Remove the bottom set of leaves from the stem. Dip the bottom of the cutting with removed leaves in rooting hormone powder and plant in a three inch pot filled with moistened potting soil.