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Everything You Need to Know About White Dogwood Trees

White dogwood trees are flowering beauties that provide year-round visual interest and attract birds and other wildlife to your garden.

White Dogwood Adobe

White dogwood trees are flowering stunners that provide a show of beauty year-round. In the springtime, they dazzle with white bracts and flowers, in the summer they reveal glossy green leaves, in the fall, they grow crimson berries, and in winter their textured bark steals the show. Despite their elegance, white dogwoods are relatively low-maintenance, making a great specimen or foundation plant for your garden.

White Dogwood Trees at a Glance

  • Four seasons of interest
  • Attract birds and wildlife
  • Perfect for compact gardens
  • Scarlet berries
  • Great as specimens or foundation plants
  • Highly adaptable to many soil types

Appearance

White dogwoods grow in a pleasing, rounded umbrella shape. Their tiered branches are slightly from their short trunk or several trunks. Their white “flowers” bloom from late March or April to May, and are actually bracts—modified leaves, with small blooms in the center. In summer, these bracts give way to glossy green leaves. In fall, crimson red berries emerge and the leaves turn a red-purple shade. In winter, the focus is on the textured, silver bark.

White dogwood trees grow to be 15-25 feet tall, with a spread of 20-25 feet. They grow at a slow-moderate rate of 1-2 feet per year.

Specifications

Appearance Umbrella shape with tiered, slightly arched branches. Short trunk or several trunks. White bracts and flowers in spring, red berries and red-purple leaves in fall, more visible textured bark in winter
Appearance Umbrella shape with tiered, slightly arched branches. Short trunk or several trunks. White bracts and flowers in spring, red berries and red-purple leaves in fall, more visible textured bark in winter
Height 15-25 feet
Hardiness Zones Zones 5-9
Type of tree Deciduous
Sunlight requirements Partial shade to full sun
Soil composition Adaptable, but prefers moist, loamy, slightly acidic soil

Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the swaths of the country where various plants can grow, based on minimum winter temperatures. White dogwood trees grow in Zones 5-9, across most of the country except for very far north and very far south.

Planting

The best time to plant white dogwoods is in the spring, when the soil is moist and before the tree growth begins. Choose a planting site that receives dappled shade. Pull any weeds and clear away any debris and turfgrass.

Dig a hole that is roughly ⅔ the depth of the root ball. Gently tease the roots apart, and place the root ball in the hole. You want it to be slightly above the level of the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with soil, tamping down as you go to eliminate any air pockets. Soak the ground, then apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to help retain the water. Be sure to keep the mulch several inches from the trunk.

If you want to create a solid screen of white dogwoods, plant them 5 feet apart from the center of each trunk. For a more sculptural look, stagger them between 6-12 feet apart from the center.

Growing Conditions

White dogwoods are fairly low-maintenance, with limited soil requirements but a need to be well-watered.

Sun and shade

White dogwoods thrive in partial shade, also called dappled shade. They require about four hours of direct sunlight per day.

Soil

These trees are highly adaptable to a wide range of soils conditions, able to grow in clay and sandy soils. But they flourish in moist, loamy, slightly acidic soil. While they need to remain moist due to their shallow roots, they do not like having wet feet.

Watering

White dogwood trees’ shallow roots can dry out if you don’t irrigate enough. During dry spells, you should water your tree at least twice a week—or more, if you live in an arid climate.

Fertilizing

Young white dogwoods do not require fertilization and can even die if too much is applied. Wait until the second season of your tree to feed, using a small amount of slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer with an NPK value of 12-4-8.

Pruning

White dogwoods grow in a round shape, and do not need to be pruned to maintain it. If you decide to prune for aesthetic purposes, clip your tree in late fall or winter, when it is dormant.

If you see any dead, damaged, or diseased branches, you should prune them immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big do white dogwood trees get?

They grow to be around 15-25 feet tall.

How fast do they grow?

They grow at a slow-moderate rate of 1-2 feet per year.

What is the best place to plant one?

White dogwoods thrive when planted in well-drained soil in an area that receives partial shade.

Can I plant one close to my house?

You should leave 15 feet between your home and your white dogwood tree.

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