Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is This Dogwood Pink?

A seedling Dogwood Cornus florida blooming for the first time this year has a pink tint. Before we get too excited, I remembered last year wondering if I had a variegated-leaf dogwood in another location. Turned out the variegated leaf was a soil deficiency; I amended the soil and it is leafing out solid green this year and its bracts are white.  The companion to the dogwood above has no blossoms to which to compare seedlings of like size and age. These bracts are not yet fully open and the tiny flowers in the center are still tight buds.

Other Dogwoods in the garden are near-white with the usual touches of dark that signify nail markings in the Legend of the Cross. As the bracts age, dark burgundy spots appear, signifying Christ's blood shed on the Cross. The true flowers are in the center surrounded by the pale bracts.

This year's Dogwood show is considerably less spectacular than previous years. Usually there is a cloud of white above the main Azalea display.

Dogwood blooms are more scattered this year, perhaps due to last year's drought and the mild winter we experienced. Azaleas are already fading as Cornus florida comes into bloom.

Dogwoods are long revered in the Deep South garden.  Once when friends were about to build a new house in Henry County, GA she asked the heavy equipment operator to leave as many dogwoods as he could. He replied, "Lady, I don't bulldoze dogwoods!"

The tree above was bird-planted. It sat, tiny and unremarkable for years.
Suddenly one year it began to grow. It has 3 blooms this year.

Another bird-planted tree with fewer blossoms that expected.
It takes about 5 years to reach blooming size.
Some years I gather and scatter dogwood seeds in the fall, pressing them about an inch into the ground. Some are to grow where they are planted; sometimes I plant a little bed of a few seedlings to move elsewhere. The best trees still seem to be the ones that got their start by running through a bird's gizzard first, so I move a small bird-planted tree sometimes. Mostly I leave them in place, since the birds seem to find the best locations for an understory specimen.

I'll let you know if the pink bracts on that one tree turn darker or fade to white. Most of the bright pink Dogwoods seen in gardens are grafted specimens. Rarely is a pink Dogwood noticed in woods here.


  1. How lucky to have bird planted Dogwoods!! I think your Dogwoods and Azalias look beautiful! I have not been successful with Dogwoods, but I have one that made it through last years drought, and it has buds on it now, so maybe I'll get lucky and this one will survive. I have to admit I've "babied" it so it should do well.

  2. Plants do the strangest things. Could be weather or soil or some unknown thing.

    I think I have lost my two dogwoods due to several years of drought. They are native here but I don't think I have any on the farm. I will be planting new ones. I love them. May have lost my large redbud too.

    I think the pink tinge is lovely, I like it better than the pure white.

  3. I have tried to get Dogwood to grow here but no luck. You can find them all over the area wild but I haven't seen any in my immediate area. Two of my favorite trees are Southern Magnolia and Dogwood. I finally got a Southern Magnolia going after trying for 15 years so maybe I'll give the Dogwood a try again. I do have English Dogwood going but not a Dogwood Tree. Yours sure are pretty.

  4. Don't you love what birds do in the garden?


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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