One of the most satisfying and rewarding things in life is watching trees grow, especially flowering trees. This is why dogwood trees are a favorite across the world. Under the right conditions, they grow quickly and start bearing bracts (specialized leaves that resemble flowers) in majestic shades. Planting dogwood trees is quite easy, and you’ll get amazing results as long as you plant them in the right season, which happens to be spring.
Why Is Spring the Perfect Time for Planting Dogwood Trees?
The planting season is one of the most important factors to consider before planting dogwood trees. You could use the best fertilizers and water the tree as often as necessary and still not get a healthy tree because it was planted during the wrong time of year. Planting in the wrong season can stunt the tree’s growth and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.
When it comes to dogwood trees, certified arborists recommend planting them in spring. This is because the trees are deciduous, which means they go dormant in the winter to cope with the environmental stress. During this period, dogwood trees have limited energy and a much slower growth rate, so a tree that is planted in the winter will experience issues, including frost damage.
Dogwood trees are also understory, or shade-tolerant, trees, so planting them during summer—the hottest and sunniest season—won’t work out well for you or the trees. Besides being more prone to sunscald damage, they can also overheat and start dying.
For dogwood trees to thrive, they require moist soil, cool and partial sun, and time to grow before winter sets in. Although the fall season has similar conditions, spring is simply the best and safest time for planting dogwood trees.
Benefits of Planting Dogwood Trees
There are many benefits of planting dogwood trees. These include:
Flowering dogwood trees are ornamental trees that can brighten up any landscape. There’s a wide variety of dogwood trees to choose from, each type growing fruits and flowers with unique shapes, sizes, and colors. They also offer four-season interest, so there’s always a beautiful sight to see. In spring, the trees flaunt their white, pink, or yellow bracts and glossy berries that attract birds. In the summer, their branches and round form can be clearly seen. Fall brings more color as the foliage starts to turn scarlet or a dark purple-red. Finally, in the winter, the leaves drop, revealing the trees’ graceful-looking bark.
Once dogwood trees have been established, they are pretty easy to care for. They grow in a rather neat fashion and only need to be pruned occasionally by tree care experts. However, if you’d like to manage the size of the trees so that they don’t take up much space or grow too tall, they may require regular pruning.
Dogwood trees are well-known not only for their ornamental uses but also as a food source for wildlife. Different parts of the trees, including the bark and seeds, serve as food for many animals. The fruits are rich in fat and enjoyed by wild turkeys, rabbits, foxes, chipmunks, and squirrels. They also attract butterflies and migrating birds. Some fruits, like the berries from kousa dogwoods, are safe for human consumption.
Because dogwood trees are fast-growing, low-maintenance, and good for wildlife, they are very useful in forest management. Dogwood trees can be planted alongside hardwoods and other larger trees for reforestation projects.
The bark of dogwood trees can be used to make medicine for various ailments. Historically, Native Americans made tea from the bark to treat malaria. In South America, soldiers drank a similar mixture to cure their fevers when quinine was unavailable. Today, some people still use the root, stem, twigs, and leaves of dogwood trees as medicine for diarrhea, headaches, and fevers. Ointments can also be made from the bark and leaves to treat boils and wounds on the skin.
How to Plant Dogwood Trees
You can have the perfect dogwood tree in no time by following these steps:
1. Choose a Good Location
Before planting dogwood trees, it’s important to find an area they can thrive in. Dogwood trees grow best in partially sunny areas, so a location with tall trees will work best. The taller trees will provide shade and just enough sunlight to promote the healthy growth of dogwood trees.
Another factor to consider when choosing the location is the soil. Dogwood trees can grow in different soil conditions, however, the best kind of soil for them is moist, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH. Note that the soil should be moist, but not overly wet. When planted in flooded areas, the roots of dogwood trees become soggy and unable to absorb the required nutrients from the soil.
2. Dig Wide Holes
Once a good location has been found, the next step is to dig a hole with enough room for the dogwood roots to grow. The hole should be at least twice as wide as the dogwood tree’s root ball. After digging, use either a shovel or your hands to loosen the soil and remove any rocks or hard particles. At this point, you can gently lower the roots into the soil, but be sure to leave the root flare above ground level.
3. Water the Tree
Dogwood trees require a good amount of water after planting. They should be watered regularly until the end of the establishment period. Additional water may be required in dry, scorching weather to help the tree retain moisture and keep the foliage fresh. Applying a layer of mulch on the soil’s surface could also keep the soil moist for longer.
4. Fertilize in the Second Season
Newly planted dogwood shrubs do not require fertilizer. In fact, too much fertilizer can quickly kill them. If, for some reason, you decide to fertilize the young shrubs, ensure only a small amount of slow-release fertilizer is used. Ideally, dogwood trees shouldn’t be fertilized until their second season. And even then, fertilizer should be applied only after the soil has been tested and the results show a real need for it.
Dogwood trees are highly desirable because of their visual appeal and environmental benefits. For convenience in planting and maintaining dogwood trees, it is advised that you contact tree care experts like the arborists at Mr. Tree Services before planting dogwood trees.