Another spring beauty is the flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, which is probably the most common and most popular native ornamental tree. It enhances the beauty of both woods and homes in many areas in Tennessee. Cornus florida is actually a native of the eastern United States from New York to Texas.
There are more than 80 selections and cultivars of this type of dogwood. Newer cultivars continue to be developed. Cultivars were made for pink or red bract color, ability to bloom at a young age, large bract size, variegated foliage, weeping or dwarf habit of growth and disease resistance. There are many selections when shopping for flowering dogwoods.
Growing and maintaining dogwoods can be successfully accomplished when a healthy tree is selected for planting. Purchase dogwoods from a reputable nursery. Avoid trees with broken or dead limbs, trunk damage or leaf spots. Select a good planting site, taking in-to consideration soil type and drainage.
Prepare the planting hole properly, two to three times wider than the container with sloping side. Make sure trunk flare is not covered with soil. Be sure to water well at planting and during drought. Mulch with 2-3 inches of organic material. Always avoid mechanical and chemical injury to trees after planting. Never dig and transplant trees from the wild as this can spread disease, namely Discula anthraconose, a fungal pathogen that can cause death of the tree.
Typically after establishment, dogwood trees experience few problems if maintained properly. Poor cultural practices can often cause a decline in the physical condition of the tree making it favorable for infestation by insects and diseases. Periods of hot dry weather, trees growing in a full-sun location and accidental injuries with garden tools frequently provide the opening through which these pests enter the plant tissues. Given reasonable care, the flowering dogwood can be grown successfully and will add beauty to the landscape for many years.
There are other species of dogwoods, bushes and trees, which bloom at different times with different styles of flowers and characteristics that vary from the more popular flowering dogwood. Some of these species can be successfully grown in our area and add interest and variety in the landscape. An important point to remember when shopping is to select those species that will be hardy under Wilson County weather conditions. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the best resource.
For additional information, contact Lucan Holman, the new horticultural agent at Wilson County Extension. Holman joined our staff Feb. 5 and will be an excellent resource for any consumer or commercial horticultural questions. His contact number is 615-444-9584 or email [email protected]
For more information, contact the UT-TSU Extension Office in Wilson County at 615-444-9584. You can also find us on Facebook or visit extension.tennessee.edu/wilson. Ruth Correll, UT Extension-TSU Cooperative Extension agent in Wilson County, may be reached at 615-444-9584 or [email protected]