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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.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 05/31/2024

White flowering dogwood trees provide a show of beauty year-round, from flowers in the spring to textured bark in the winter. Despite their elegance, white dogwoods are relatively low-maintenance, making a great choice for your yard or garden. We’ll give you some vital information on white flowering dogwoods, then share how to plant and maintain your new tree.


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 dogwood trees are technically known as flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), but most cultivars grow white blossoms. These trees tend to grow in a pleasing, rounded umbrella shape. Their white “flowers” bloom from late March or April to May, and are actually bracts—modified leaves with small blooms in the center. Wild flowering dogwoods produce white bracts, but some cultivars can produce bracts ranging from blush pink to red. 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.


White Dogwood Tree Specifications

Appearance

Umbrella shape with tiered, slightly arched branches. Short trunk or several trunks. White bracts in spring, red berries and red-purple leaves in fall, textured bark is visible 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. These trees will thrive best and grow tallest—up to 40 feet—in northern regions of the South.


Planting

The best time to plant white flowering dogwoods is in the spring, when the soil is moist and before the tree growth begins. Choose a planting site that receives dappled shade and, if possible, morning sun. Then follow the steps below.

  1. Pull any weeds and clear away any debris and turfgrass from the planting site.
  2. Allow the sapling’s root ball to soak in water for about four hours to make separating the roots easier.
  3. Dig a hole that is roughly 1 foot wider and 2/3 the depth of the root ball.
  4. Gently tease the roots apart, and place the root ball in the hole. The top of it should protrude slightly above the level of the surrounding soil.
  5. Backfill the hole with soil, tamping down as you go to eliminate any air pockets.
  6. 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 stand of white dogwoods, plant them at least 5 feet apart, measuring from the center of each trunk. For more visual interest, stagger them between 6 and 12 feet apart. Dogwood roots are shallow, so give these trees a wide berth when mowing your lawn.


Flowering dogwoods are fairly low-maintenance with limited soil requirements, but they need to be well-watered. Here are some other conditions to keep in mind.

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

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 (pH 6–7) soil. While they need to remain moist due to their shallow roots, they do not like having wet feet.

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

Young flowering dogwoods do not require fertilization and can even die if too much fertilizer 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.

White dogwoods naturally grow in a round shape and do not need to be pruned to maintain it. However, 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.


FAQ About Flowering White Dogwood Trees

How big do white dogwood trees get?

White dogwood trees grow to be around 1525 feet tall.

How fast do flowering dogwood trees grow?

Flowering dogwoods grow at a slow-moderate rate of 12 feet per year.

What is the best place to plant a flowering white dogwood?

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

Can I plant a flowering dogwood tree close to my house?

Yes, but you should leave 15 feet between your home and your dogwood tree.

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