Dogwood shrubs are are easy to grow and care for. Dogwood shrubs, such as red twig dogwoods, are not to be confused with dogwood trees. While both shrubs and the trees belong to the same genus: Cornus, the shrubs will never become trees. There are two species of dogwood shrubs: Cornus alba, which is the Tatarian dogwood, and Cornus sericea, which is the Redosier dogwood. Both species are much alike in their cultural needs.

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know regarding feeding and watering Dogwood shrubs...


Feeding Dogwood Shrubs

Dogwood shrubs aren't heavy feeders but will benefit from fertilization. Fertilize them in spring with a slow-release shrub & tree food, preferably one that contains Sulfur and/or Iron. Alternatively, you can feed with a natural organic plant food or simply mulch with aged organic compost. To avoid stimulating new growth that could be damaged by an early frost, cease any fertilization two months prior to the average first frost date in your area.


Soil pH 

Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil, which is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline.

Dogwood shrubs will grow well in an acid to mildly alkaline soil ranging from 5.0 to 7.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. 

If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or whether or not it's suitable for growing Dogwood shrubs, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil SulfurAluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.



Watering Dogwood Shrubs

When young, Dogwood shrubs will require consistent moisture to establish roots. When established most varieties will tolerate dry or wet periods.


At Planting Time 

Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area, including the rootball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost, you can water your newly planted Dogwood shrub with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development. Root Stimulator reduces plant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.


During the First Active Growth Season

In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Dogwood shrub every day. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water as needed to keep the rootball and surrounding soil moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again, is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day. Shrubs planted during the winter dormant season, when plants are not actively growing and evaporation is much slower, will require much less water.


Thereafter

Mature Dogwood shrubs only require supplemental watering during dry spells. If you see new leaves wilting or the tips of new stems bending over during dry weather this could be a sign your plants could use a good deep soaking.


TIP: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliage diseases. During the first few weeks after planting, check soil moisture often and adjust irrigation time if necessary to keep the soil moist. 



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