Dogwood (Cornus)

Quick facts and care essentials

• Deciduous
• Climate zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade
• Regular water
• Growth rate: moderate

Dogwoods offer showy spring bloom and attractive foliage; their good-looking branch structure makes a nice display when trees are bare in winter. Give them well-drained, slightly acid soil and partial shade or full sun.

Flowering dogwood (C. florida). Zones 2-9, 14-16, 26 (northern part), 28, 29, 31-41. Typically reaches 20 to 30 feet high and wide, though it sometimes attains 40 feet. Oval, bright green leaves to 6 inches long turn flaming red in autumn. True flowers are borne in small clusters, but they're surrounded by showy bracts that make a striking display, almost covering trees before the leaves expand. The basic species has white bracts; named selections offer pink to nearly red bracts. Clusters of small scarlet fruits follow flowers and last into winter. This species is subject to anthracnose and borers in its native territory.

Kousa or Japanese dogwood (C. kousa). Zones 3-9, 14, 15, 18, 19, 31-34. A big multistemmed shrub, or, with training, a small tree to 20 feet tall and wide. Branches form dense, horizontal tiers. Pointed-oval, lustrous medium green leaves to 4 inches long turn yellow or scarlet in fall. Creamy white bracts appear after the foliage emerges. Resistant to both anthracnose and borers.