Using Dogwood In the Landscape

Flowering dogwood trees display their spectacular blossoms to best advantage against a background of either needled or broadleaf evergreens such as spruce, pine, or rhododendron. They stand out well against a brick wall, too. Their wide, leafy branches soften strong vertical lines of buildings, especially at their corners, so that homes seem larger. Standing individually in the yard, they are eye-catching specimens. Planted at the bottom of a slope or below a second floor deck, their handsome blossoms make a most attractive display viewed from above. Flowering Dogwoods and azaleas are a classic combination reflecting their native association in the Eastern woodlands of the US. Dogwoods also work well in naturalized situations in unlandscaped and wooded areas on your property. The edges of a wooded lot are an ideal location. They do best planted in small groups of 2 or 3.

Attracting Songbirds and Wildlife - Woodland gardens and naturalized areas on your property are ideal places to plant dogwoods and to attract and shelter wildlife. Create a miniature forest area by planting a few dogwood trees so that their canopies will just barely overlap at maturity and then plant smaller seed and fruit bearing shrubs and groundcovers. The seeds that appear on flowering dogwoods attract water birds, upland ground birds, large and small mammals and hoofed browsers such as deer. They attract over 36 speices of songbirds. They are usually all consumed before winter sets in. This does not harm the tree or affect its blooming next season. For more information see the file on Attracting Birds To the Landscape

Forcing/Cutting For Display Indoors
Budded Dogwood branches will bloom indoors as early as February. However, the closer they are to their normal bloom time, the faster they will bloom prematurely indoors. Cut stems on a mild day. The more swollen the buds, the sooner they will open in the warmth of the house. To maintain a pleasing natural shape for the tree, choose branches that the tree will never miss. The longer the selected branches the more flowers there will be. Long stems are also more versatile for indoor arrangements.

Once indoors, cut off the ends of the branches for a fresh cut, slit the woody ends to help them absorb water, and immediately immerse them in warm water to soak for 3 to 4 hours. Strip off any leaves that will be underwater, then place them in a dimly lit, cool place until the buds begin showing color.

Change the water periodically. When you see some color in the buds, arrange the Dogwood branches in a vase with fresh water. Add some commercial floral preservative or some citrus-based carbonated soda (non-diet) to the water to prolong their freshness when the flowers open. Bring them into a bright room where they can be appreciated. These blooms should last about a week and lift winter weary spirits.

If you choose to wait until they bloom outdoors to bring some in, cut the branches just as the buds are showing color. Put them in water as described above. Display them alone, or combined with spring bulb flowers such as early tulips, daffodils and other flowering shrubs such as forsythia and flowering quince. For more information see the file on Keeping Cut Flowers and Cut Flower Supplies


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