The pink dogwood is notable for the many pastel flowers that it produces each spring for about two to four weeks. Like other dogwoods, the pink varieties are very good landscape trees for the rest of the year, with green foliage that turns purplish in fall and reddish berries that draw butterflies and birds. They're also not very messy trees.
At a growth rate of about 1 foot per year, the pink dogwood tree can quickly become a robust addition to the landscape. It is tough to source seeds for pink dogwood since they are a cultivar from white dogwood trees. The most reliable way to get pink dogwood is by getting clones produced by budding, grafting, or tissue culture. Most seeds sold online collected from pink dogwoods result in white flowering dogwoods; the odds are low that you will end up with a pink flowering variety.
|Common Name||Pink dogwood, pink flowering dogwood|
|Botanical Name||Cornus florida f. rubra|
|Mature Size||15-30 ft. tall, 15-30+ ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Hardiness Zones||5-9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||North America|
Pink Dogwood Tree Care
Plant pink dogwood trees in well-drained, acidic soil in a sunny or partially sunny spot. They are not heavy feeders, but you can improve performance by furnishing at least moderately fertile ground for them.
Since Cornus florida var. rubra is an understory tree in the wild, growing it in partial shade in the landscape (particularly in hot climates) is best. But some homeowners grow pink dogwood trees in full sun (especially in the North), which can work as long as you supply the plants with enough water. Applying a few inches of mulch during the hottest part of summer will help protect the tree's root system and help the soil retain water.
Pink flowering dogwoods thrive in partial shade but can handle full sun with appropriate mulching and watering.
Dogwoods thrive in rich, slightly acidic soil. The most important soil condition for pink flowering dogwoods is good drainage.
Water needs are average, but you should never allow your pink dogwood to dry out altogether. Water deeply during periods of drought or heat.
Temperature and Humidity
Flowering dogwoods thrive in shady, dark locations with plenty of rich, damp soil. While they can tolerate a relatively wide range of soil conditions and temperatures, they do not do well if they are too hot or dry.
If your soil is acidic, well-drained, and rich, then there is no need for fertilizer. If not, apply soil amendments, including compost, when planting and periodically afterward. Apply a 4-to 6-inch layer of mulch around your pink dogwood.
Types of Dogwood Tree
Although Cornus florida var. rubra is one of the better pink dogwoods, it is not the only one. Cornus kousa Satomi is a form of pink Japanese dogwood. Other varieties, cultivars, and species also have their merits, including:
- Cherokee Chief (Cornus florida): This cultivar with red flowers is otherwise similar to Cornus florida var. rubra.
- Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas): is a flowering dogwood relative that, in spring, bears small, yellow flowers in clusters.
Some types of dogwood trees are grown as much for their pretty leaves as for their flowers. Wolf Eyes dogwood (Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes') and Golden Shadows pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'Golden Shadows') have variegated leaves. Some shrubs commonly used in landscaping are types of dogwoods, including yellow-twig Tatarian dogwood (Cornus servicea 'Famiramea') and its red-barked cousin.
Since flowering dogwood is valued for its horizontal branching patterns, prune away storm-damaged limbs that would mar the plant's appearance. Careful pruning can help return a storm-damaged tree to its attractive shape. Beyond this, little pruning should be necessary. Dead branches can be pruned off at any time. If you notice limbs rubbing against one another, you can prune to open up the canopy—the best time for this type of pruning is in late winter or early spring.
Propagating Pink Dogwood
Taking cuttings of pink dogwood in early June is the best time to ensure the cutting will grow roots. Here's how to make a successful cutting:
- Start with moist perlite and peat moss mixture in a 7-inch pot. Create a hole in the middle for the cutting. Make sure the pot has good drainage.
- Choose a cutting that is healthy and straight. It should have new leaves at the top and be flexible, not the type of wood that snaps or breaks upon bending. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle with very sharp shears. It should be cut 1/2 inch below a leaf node.
- Using a very sharp blade, cut 1/2 inch up on either side of the cutting, coming up from the cut end.
- Immediately dip the cutting in water and then in rooting hormone. Make sure the powdered hormone covers the first few inches of the stem. Insert it into the prepared hole in the pot.
- Use a planting dome to cover the dogwood cutting. Make sure the wire dome and the bag over it are at least 1 inch away from the top of the dogwood cutting.
- Mist the cutting with water before sealing the bag.
- Place the plant, dome, and all, under grow lights for 18 hours daily. The plant should be about 12 inches below the grow light.
- After five weeks, open the bag and test for roots by gently moving the cutting. If there is resistance, it has roots. If not, close up the bag and wait another three weeks.
- When the cutting has grown roots, acclimate it by opening the bag for an hour and increasing the intervals until the bag is removed. When the cutting starts shooting up new growth, it can be planted outdoors.
How to Grow Pink Dogwood From Seed
Though it is possible to grow dogwood trees from seed, the odds are that they will not be pink dogwood trees, as the seeds result in white dogwood flowers. The best way to ensure pink dogwood for your landscape is to propagate the cuttings from an existing dogwood tree.
Once a dogwood tree is established in the landscape and has growing leaves, it can handle winter as long as it's in the proper zones for growth. Help it along with thick mulch around the base.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Spot anthracnose disease is known to pose a problem for flowering dogwood. Some cultivars of Cornus florida are more tolerant of it than others, so be sure to ask your local county extension office for recommendations on which cultivars to plant in your region or how to treat the disease if your dogwood already has it. In areas where the tree is particularly susceptible, it may be best to take the path of least resistance and simply plant another type of tree. Powdery mildew is another common problem for flowering dogwood.
What are alternatives to pink dogwood trees?
Cornus florida is the scientific name for all flowering dogwoods, not just pink ones. Most flowers from Cornus florida are white, some are pink, and a very small portion is yellow. They are all the same species and are not even different varieties. They are considered different forms. That's why the name is Conus florida f. rubra.
How long can a pink dogwood live?
With good care, your tree could stick around for at least 80 years.
Can pink dogwood grow indoors?
It must be grown indoors at first as a cutting to become established as a new plant. However, after that, it needs to be outside to spread out a robust root system.
Doubrava, Nancy et al. “Dogwood Diseases & Insect Pests.” Clemson University Extension Office. Clemson.edu. N.p., 17 Feb. 2021.