Planting Flowering Dogwood in Your Yard

Row of Dogwood Trees blossoming in spring season.

Getty Images/michaelmill 

Flowering dogwood is the state tree of Virginia and Missouri and the state flower of North Carolina. It is an extremely popular flowering tree in American landscapes, is beautiful in every season and a sturdy tree that can be grown in most yards.

Flowering dogwood opens white flowers in April, usually before the leaf display, and will show off and enhance any spring landscape. If planted on a hospitable site and under a canopy of larger trees, the tree grows fast, sleek and slim -- but it will be less sleek and huskier when grown in open sun. Unfortunately, the tree is too often planted on dry, sunny and alkaline soils and the grower misses its full potential.

Habit and Planting

Dogwood grows readily from seed but is not easy to transplant. You will do best by buying a potted tree at your garden center or bare-root tree at a nursery. You can buy bare-root stock in bulk at very reasonable prices from the Arbor Day Foundation if you are a member.

Always move dogwood with a complete root ball in the early spring and place the transplant a little high in the planting hole. Understory dogwood is a medium tree of about 40 feet with wispy stems. The dogwood occupies a large eastern north-south range in North America -- from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The tree is not very hardy if planted beyond its genetic home region so pick a local variety.

Strong Cultivars

There are white, red and blended versions of flowering dogwood. Some of the most popular dogwood cultivars are 'Cherokee Chief,' 'Cherokee Princess,' 'First Lady,' 'Rubra,' 'New Hampshire,' and 'Appalachian Spring.' Many of these can only be found in local nurseries in the region where the cultivar does best. Flowering dogwood is hardy through zone 5.