Plant of the Month
Dogwood (Cornus florida)
In most of East Tennessee, C. florida and her many cultivars reign supreme in spring, with shiny, new leaves and abundant blossoms in March and April. This native dogwood is drought tolerant once established, tolerates clay soils, and is usually free of disease. It will grow in part shade or full sun, with more blossoms in relation to amount of sun. Mulch to retain moisture.
The “blossoms” are actually colored bracts and the true blossom is a cluster located at the center of the bracts. In autumn the foliage is a stunning red. Up to 36 species of critters are attracted to the red winter fruit!
The gardener may select from white, pink, and red (really a deep rose) for color. White makes a spectacular backdrop or specimen when planted with evergreens, and echoes the natural woodland variety bringing a bit of the Tennessee countryside to your garden. White avoids color clash with any redbuds planted nearby and seems to thrive better, grow faster, and have greater disease resistance than the pinks and reds. My favorite white variety is ‘Cherokee Princess’.
Anthracnose fungal disease has been a serious problem with forest dogwoods. Avoiding stress on young trees and planting where air circulation is good will help the tree's resistance. Two notable cultivars, ‘Appalachian Spring’ and ‘Appalachian Snow’, were developed specifically to resist anthracnose. Fungicide application in spring following a year of severe infection will often remedy the problem in other varieties. - by L. Smalley