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Options for Dogwood Tree Plantings
Clark MacCallister
When most people think of dogwood trees, the first thing that comes to mind is usually our native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). This small tree is a landscape favorite because of its beautiful white flowers and red berries, as well as its easy-to-grow nature. However, I have been seeing less of these planted. Flowering dogwoods like shady conditions, well-drained soil and acidic soils. Unfortunately, I often see them placed in sunny front yards with heavy clay soils. These conditions lead to scraggly-looking trees with curled, purple leaves and a generally unsightly-looking appearance. The native flowering dogwood is not our only option for dogwood trees in the home landscape. Several other species are available with their own unique features. One interesting dogwood species is the kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). This tree is known for its beautiful white flowers in spring and edible raspberry-like fruit in the fall. It is considered a slow to moderate grower, reaching 10 feet tall in around 15 years. Kousa dogwoods are also prized for the winter interest created by their bark. The “exfoliating nature” of the bark resembles jigsaw puzzle pieces, and trees should be properly pruned up to accentuate this feature.

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