Watering Dogwoods

Dogwoods are prized in the landscape for their showy springtime flowers. They often also have unique bark or an interesting form that provides year-round interest. Proper watering helps to maintain a healthy root system, allowing these shrubs or small trees to thrive and grow.

How to tell if a Dogwood Needs Water

There are a few indicators that a dogwood shrub or tree may need water. First, the leaves may wilt during the heat of the day and perk up at night. Wilting may become more severe as drought stress worsens. Dogwoods also develop leaf scorch when dehydrated. This appears as a browning along leaf edges. If these symptoms develop and the soil around the plant is dry, the dogwood will need water. Checking the soil is important, since waterlogged soil can also cause wilting. 

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How Often to Water Dogwoods

For the first year or two following planting, water a dogwood one to two times per week during periods of hot, dry weather. Spreading a layer of mulch three inches deep over the ground around the dogwood helps to retain moisture around the roots. 

Once established, dogwoods may need little or no supplemental irrigation. During extended dry spells watch for signs of wilt or leaf scorch and check the soil around the plant to determine if the dogwood needs water.

It is possible to overwater dogwoods. These plants prefer well-drained soil and will struggle if there is too much moisture around the roots. Prior to watering, use a small shovel or spade to dig a hole four to six inches deep near the plant or push a screwdriver into the soil to determine if the soil is dry.  

Dogwoods are not typically container specimens, but may be kept in pots for a length of time at a nursery or prior to planting in the landscape. Excessive moisture can be a problem if there are no drain holes in the container. Potted dogwoods with well-developed root systems may dry out quickly. Whenever the soil about an inch below the surface feels dry to the touch, water the dogwood slowly, just long enough that water comes out of the drain holes.

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The Best Time to Water Dogwoods

The best time to water dogwoods is early in the morning. This will reduce water loss through evaporation that will be greatest during the heat of the day and will provide maximum efficiency. 

Most supplemental watering will be required during hot, dry weather from late spring through early fall. Depending on where you live, the dogwood may need little or no water from fall through spring.

How to Water Dogwoods

Learn how to Water Dogwoods in four easy steps.

Estimated Time - 10 minutes

What You Need

  • Screwdriver or small shovel
  • Hose
  • Watering bucket or irrigation system

Step 1 - Determine if the dogwood needs water.

Use a small shovel or trowel to dig a hole about four to six inches deep in the ground in the general area of the dogwood or push a screwdriver into the ground. If the soil at this depth feels dry, the dogwood is ready to water.

Step 2 - Prepare water.

Stretch out a hose and turn it on a very low setting or fill a bucket with a small hole or two near its bottom.

Step 3 - Apply water to the dogwood. 

As a general rule, give the shrub or tree enough water to moisten the top four to six inches of soil. Make sure the water is slowly penetrating the soil and not running off, a possible issue if the soil surface is hard and sloped. 

Step 4 - Check the soil.

Probe the soil with a screwdriver or dig a small hole in the general area where you watered. Apply more if the water has moistened less than the top four inches of soil.

Dogwood Watering Tips

  • A three-inch layer of mulch like wood chips around the dogwood will preserve soil moisture.
  • Avoid getting water on the dogwood’s leaves or stem.
  • About an inch of rain or overhead watering is equivalent to one watering session. 
  • Deep, infrequent waterings encourage a dogwood to extend its root system and better resist future droughts and other problems.

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