When it comes to usefulness, beauty and ease of growing, nothing beats the shrubby dogwoods, with their colourful winter stems and (in the variegated kinds) brightly painted foliage. Planting dogwoods in autumn and early winter makes most sense, as they do best in damp soil and will establish quickly. They’ll give their best if never allowed to go short of water, so it’s a good idea to enrich the soil with well-rotted compost or manure before planting. Once settled, dogwoods are not fussy and will thrive even in poor, dry earth.
How to plant dogwoods
You can plant pot-grown dogwoods all year round or bare-root dogwoods between autumn and March. Right after planting, shorten stems by a third to a half, to help the plant establish properly. To enjoy winter bark colour, cut established plants to within 10cm of the ground in March, as the youngest stems have the brightest colour.
More on growing dogwoods:
Follow our guide to planting a pot-grown dogwood, below.
You Will Need
- Garden spade
- Organic matter (e.g. well-rotted manure)
Work in organic matter at planting time. Shrubby dogwoods thrive best in rich, damp ground. Make sure they don’t dry out while becoming established.
Soak the plant in a bucket of water before planting to saturate the rootball. If dry when planting it can remain that way, despite rain. Tease out the roots.
Plant it so the surface of the compost is at – or just below – soil level after planting. Mix organic matter with the earth when you’re filling the hole.
Firm the soil and organic matter around the dogwood with your foot and flick over the surface of the soil with a fork so that it is not flattened. Soak the plant to settle soil round the roots.