S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Cornus Florida )
– Native to the eastern United States / Florida Native Tree
– Although further North in its range these trees will grow with full sun exposure,
here in North Florida | St. Augustine | Jacksonville landscapes, the Florida native Dogwood trees will do best
as understory tree where other larger growing shade trees such as Oaks or Pines block some of the hot sun off of
its foliage in the afternoon. I refer to them as what I call an “edge of the woods’ planting
Dogwood Foliage :
– Deciduous foliage of the Dogwood Tree is a light leaf green color during spring and summer and will turn red to maroon color before falling off the tree for the winter.
Dogwood Soil Preference / Salt tolerance:
– White Florida Dogwood trees prefer deep rich well-defined soils including sandy loam, acidic and slightly alkaline soils as long as they do not remind wet or soggy after North Florida’s heavy rainfalls.
– Cornus Florida has a low salt tolerance and should be avoided in any sodic soil situations and near salt air. See Bottlebrush trees for a beautiful option for a salt tolerant ornamental tree that will tolerate North Florida’s ocean breeze exposures along marshes or coastal areas.
Dogwood Size Variance:
– Dogwood trees can reach sizes of 25-35 feet H | 15-25+ feet W depending on how many trunks are allowed to develop.
Dogwood Growth Habit:
– White Dogwood trees tend to have lower branches with a fairly horizontal branch pattern and upturned branches through the center.
Dogwood Growth Rate:
– The owner of a Dogwood tree is a patient and caring individual. The slow growth rate and particular care needed for successful establishment into the landscape do a good job of making the trees somewhat of a rarity.
The trees go unnoticed much of the year and blend into the neighboring landscapes well until spring, when you happen to glance over as your driving down the road and see a mature White Florida Dogwood in full bloom, you will know it is worth the wait, and maybe even the extra fuss in the first few seasons.
Florida Dogwood Bloom:
– Little compares to a Florida Dogwood in full bloom. The white flowers almost cover the bare branches each year in early spring before the tree puts on its cloak of leaves for the year.
– The trees may go unnoticed much of the year and blend into the neighboring landscapes well, that is until spring… when you happen to glance over as your driving down the road and see a mature White Florida Dogwood in full bloom, you will know it is well worth the little bit of extra fuss to get a newly planted Dogwood tree established into your landscape, even the slow growth rate wont bother you, one glance out of the corner of your eye in early spring is all it takes to fall in love with these trees.
Dogwood Water Requirements:
– I have often repeated the infamous words that a Dogwood tree is not truly yours until it has survived two growing seasons in the landscape.
– A slower growth rate means a slower transition from a potted perfectly cared for and pampered tree to a hardened off survivor in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine landscape. In other words… it takes more TLC for a longer period of time than most trees because of the prolonged establishment period.
– Dogwood trees will need to be watered on a daily basis for a minimum of a two month period, then slowly tapered back to every other day then every third day and so on until you reach a weekly watering during its first season in ground after planting.
– Think your done? Not so I’m afraid, Dogwoods will require a second season of TLC the following year. A weekly thorough watering is needed especially during times of reduced rainfall to ensure survival of these trees in the landscape.
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
– The Florida White Dogwood will attract birds to its graceful branches,
particularly when fruiting. Birds love those little red oval shaped berries for the few weeks each year they will be there.
Best Uses For Dogwood Trees:
– Although Dogwood trees tend to be more of an investment in time and attention than many other trees for North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine landscapes, they are well worth the trouble. Tree choices to match the beauty of a Dogwood in full bloom are few and far between.
– Use Dogwoods as an Understory tree or ornamental tree where they will
receive morning sun and afternoon shade in a location where you will be able to sit and enjoy them each year in the spring.
– The low lying horizontal branches make the shade underneath the branches of a Florida Dogwood the perfect spot for a bench, lounge chair to read in or even a picnic table.
Care of Dogwood Trees in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine landscape:
– Water every day during the prolonged establishment period. ( See Dogwood water requirements of further explanation)
-They will need consistent water during the establishment period and supplemental irrigation during dry spells or particularly hot dry summers for the first few seasons after planting.
– Little, if any pruning is needed on the Florida Native Dogwood tree.
– Provide a 1 ft diameter circle of mulched area where grass is kept from growing for each inch of caliper (or diameter) of trunk measured 4 inches from the ground level.
– Fertilize each spring with a mixture of Milorganite and a slow release poly coated plant food such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer around the mulch circle underneath the foliage of the tree.