by P. Bieneman
The species Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood, is one of the most recognizable and beloved of all our native early flowering trees. The large showy bracts (commonly called showy flowers) are impressive in April as they brighten wooded edges and home landscapes. Keeping track of the many cultivars can be daunting as hundreds exist.
The best situation for growing C. florida is an acidic, well-drained soil that has been enriched with plenty of organic matter. Part shade is ideal although they will grow well in full sun provided with adequate moisture and mulch. We recommend Leaf-gro to supplement your existing soil. Several diseases and insects affect Flowering Dogwood including Anthracnose, leaf spot and borer. A properly sited and maintained tree is your best defense against these threats.
We offer the straight species, Cornus florida, and many cultivars including, ‘Cherokee Brave’ and ‘Cherokee Princess’, ‘Kay’s Appalachian Mist’, a highly disease resistant white form and the var. Rubra. We are happy to offer Cornus x rutgersensis ‘Venus’ this year. It is an extraordinary tree in bloom with up to 6” wide bracts and an upright, densely branching habit to about 25’. This cultivar blooms in May.