The Q&A Archives: Fertilizing Dogwood Trees

Questioner's Location: Tacoma,, WA
Date: May 2, 2000

Question: Do you need to fertilize dogwood trees to get them to bloom? I inherited two--one pink and one white--with the house I bought. They probably were neglected for years. Each year they leaf out, but have very poor blooms (almost none). If fertilizer is recommended, what type? These trees are about 10 feet tall and the trunk is about 3 inches in diameter.

Answer: Sometimes dogwoods are reluctant to bloom when all of their requirements are not met. Dogwoods prefer full sunshine in cool summer areas like the Pacific Northwest. They need rich, well-draining soils, and bloom in the spring from bracts on the tips of branches which form during the late summer and fall months of the previous year. Flowering is directly related to good care during the formation of these flowering bracts. Dry soils during summer, or other types of stress, will reduce or eliminate bloom the following spring.

To ensure bloom next spring, keep your trees watered regularly during the summer months. Consider applying an annual layer of compost under the tree each spring to provide nutrients. If your soil is very poor, you may want to apply a faster acting organic fertilizer this spring to give them a boost.

Hope your dogwoods bloom prolifically for you next spring!

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