Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5th in a Series - Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Flowering Dogwood, found throughout all of Ohio and the entire eastern half of the United States, is one of the most popular ornamental trees, with four-season appeal. Showy early spring flowers are the yearly highlight, but red fruits and crimson foliage in autumn, large floral buds and checkered bark in winter, and year-round layered branching add to its appeal. Historically, the hard, close-grained wood of Flowering Dogwood was used to make shuttles for weaving in the textile industry. As an understory and woodland edge tree, its early spring blossoms stand out in forests before the leaves take over. It may also be found as a single or multi-trunked tree in open fields, where it may reach 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

Planting Requirements - Flowering Dogwood strongly prefers evenly moist, well-drained, fertile, deep soils of acidic pH, in partial sun. It grudgingly adapts to lesser conditions, and in urban environments it often is sited in poor, dry, rocky, clay soils of alkaline pH, in full sun. Under such conditions it may become weak and stunted, and be much more prone to attack by diseases and pests. It is found in zones 5 to 9, in full sun to full shade.

Potential Problems - Flowering Dogwood suffers tremendously from a number of pathogens and pests. The most important diseases are leaf and stem anthracnose (a serious and often fatal problem in the northeastern United States), leaf powdery mildew (mostly a cosmetic concern), and trunk canker (which will sometimes kill individual trunks, or cause large wounds that are slow to heal). The most important pest is the dogwood borer, which can kill trees outright, especially those under stress (as in severe drought to established trees, but more commonly newly transplanted trees that are not adequately watered). Siting new seedlings, saplings, or large balled and burlapped trees in deep, acidic soils with supplemental organic matter that aids in good drainage, and keeping the tree watered for the first two years of its establishment do wonders for tree health.

The Flowering Dogwood is one of 6 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2015 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District.  Other seedlings include White Pine, Chinquapin Oak, Black Walnut, Red Bud, and Hazelnut. Also available this year are 2 varieties of standard pear trees; Potomac and Crispie. The sale will include Sierra Blueberries and Triple Crown thornless Blackberries.  We will offer two cover crop seed mixes for gardeners; a Fall Cover mix, and new this year, a mix that can be interseeded into a producing vegetable garden in late summer.  And as usual, the district has high quality all cedar birdfeeders and houses for sale.  For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-435-0408.

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