Annoying pink dogwood

mosswitchDecember 27, 2010

I planted a pink dogwood, 4 years ago this spring, in full bloom.......about 5' tall, 5 gal container size. Damn thing hasn't bloomed since and not a bud this fall either. Wonder how big it will have to get before it blooms again? It must be close to 8' by now, nice and healthy. A white one that was planted at the same time, in full bloom, took 2 yrs before it bloomed again. I hate it when the growers pump them full of hormones and fertilizers to make them bloom in the garden centers and then it takes them years to bloom again.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I don't know about use of hormones in commercial production of hardy flowering trees (other than using them to get cuttings to strike) but I suppose your specimens might need to be fertilized in order to be as floriferous as they apparently were for the growers.

A plant can appear "healthy" and actually have a significant, limiting nutrient deficiency. When yellowishness or chlorosis appears then there is a severe deficiency.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 9:23PM
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No chlorosis, growing like mad, three other dogwoods in the area are blooming. In the middle of a hosta bed with lots of good compost that gets topdressed every year. No deficiency of nutrients, plenty of water. I had another pink dogwood that took a good ten years to bloom. I actually suspect the soil is too good, too much nitrogen that contributes to growth but not flowers. I might use some triple super phosphate on it this year and see what happens.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 9:44PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

mosswitch, since you are already amending the soil do you have one of them soil testers? Perhaps now you can get one or have the state test your soil, come up with a plan.

Interesting about the pink dogwoods. It is my understanding most of the pink flowering Cornus florida dogwoods are grafted trees since 99.9% of natural grown trees are white flowering. I would think that would have them flowering earlier. Perhaps being grafted slows them down? I haven't read on this at all, just my guess.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 12:13AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

my first thought ... when flowers are sacrificed in favor of lush green growth is too much fert.... or low light [which is probably not an issue with a shade tree] ...

water could also be an alternative.. but probably not in a hosta bed ...

rather than adding more soil amendments.. i would tend to stop amending the soil near this tree.. and let it be...

it might be a case of TOO MUCH LOVE.. rather than adding more love ... it is a tree .. and IMHO.. trees do not need any help from us.. once established ...

your super soil.. and excess watering [for the hosta].. is most likely... too much love..

i agree.. have or do a soil test.. before throwing more love at it..

BTW... do you add additional fert to the hosta????


ps: with the continual adding of compost ... is the tree still planted at the proper depth???? is the trunk collar still at soil level????

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 8:55AM
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No addional fertlizers to the hostas, just compost. and yes, the soil is at the proper level, I never put any compost or mulch up against tree trunks. Low light is not a problem, and yes, it is a grafted tree.

When thinking about it, brainstorming (with your help) I am leaning more towards the idea of not enough phosphorus in the soil to contribute to bloom. Given the size the hostas reach (huge), I am sure there is plenty of nitrogen but I haven't had the soil tested. Might have a test kit around here someplace from my days as a professional nurseryman. I'll use that in the spring before I add any phosphates.

The tree has never been fertlized except for some root stimulator when it was planted. I don't like to use chemical fertilizers on anything except potted plants.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 12:19PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

>the soil is at the proper level>I haven't had the soil tested>The tree has never been fertlized except for some root stimulatorA nitrogen fertilizer is adequate for transplanting landscape plants; avoid use of âÂÂtransplant
fertilizersâ that contain phosphate

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Vitamin Stimulants

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 2:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

a well rotted compost is a fertilizer ... on some level ...

do you make your own.. or get it from the city..

have you ever tested the compost ...

and can we presume it is well away from a lawn that is repeatedly fertilized with a high nitro fert???


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Root stimulator was four years ago, so we can safely assume that it is long gone. I make my own compost; shredded leaves, kitchen waste, garden waste, and never fertilize the lawn. It's mostly moss, which dies if it's fertilized, and I don't want that. The bed is mulched with shredded leaves only.

Doing some research, I find that sometimes dogwoods won't set buds due to weather conditions. Seems they need cool nights, which is something we didn't have much of this fall; tho the other dogwoods have set heavy bud counts, maybe that is what this dogwood needed. Also, maybe it just isn't old enough.

Its companion white one, planted at the same time, set a few buds low on the tree last year, as they do when they first start blooming, and this year more buds, higher up, so it is on its way. But I just looked, and nary a one on the pink.

From doing a bit more research, I found that one university study suggested not enough nitrogen, strangely enough. One suggested more water, one said less. One said more phosphates, one said more potassium. I don't really think anybody actually knows why pink dogwoods are sometimes reluctant to bloom. I do know from my years in the nursery industry that they are force-fed fertilizers and growth hormones to make them bloom and look good in the marketplace. Perhaps after they are forced like that, they spend a few years recovering their natural systems before blooming again. I guess I will just wait and see. Maybe lots of egg shells and banana peels in the mulch!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 6:05PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

>growth hormones to make them bloomWhat, specifically are you referring to? I haven't been exposed to this before.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 7:59PM
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I can't give you specific names, other than indolebuteric acid and gibberellic acid, which are just a couple of ingredients in a whole cocktail of chemicals; fertilizers, insecticides, vitamins, growth hormones, fungicides, etc commercial nurseries use on stock to grow it as quickly as possible and with the most flower production as early as possible to make ornamental nursery stock attractive and salable.

Since I am not a chemist I can't give you a breakdown but I have seen the spraying equipment they use, on tours of various commercial nursery "factory" farms with hundreds of acres of stock, and the huge tanks of chemicals they use. Unless you buy from an operation that grows organically, that is usually what you get; an enhanced plant grown to be all it can be in the shortest length of time to get it out there for sale. Those big operations are all about making money.

Not to say that they don't produce good healthy plants, because they do; they couldn't stay in business if they didn't. But they are definitely bio-engineered.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 9:40PM
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Its my personal experience that newly purchased flowering dogwoods take a few years to bloom. C. florida 'Cherokee C. kousa x rutgers 'Stellar Pink' and C. kousa 'Satomi'.

Don't know if its pink (I've never grown a white one), culture, climate or nursery practices, but it is a fact in my garden.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:51AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

It does seem likely to be the difference in conditions between the grower's fields and the final planting site, what needs to be discovered is what particular thing needs to be done now to improve results.

Small camellias purchased full of buds that don't bloom again for years are a recurring source of consternation. Again we are left to assume the grower was doing something to promote heavy, early budding that the retail consumer is not.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 11:38AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

My personal experience with dogwoods (5 trees) are that they have all flowered at least some after the first year after transplant, but it improves over time. However ALL my dogwoods have been in FULL sun. It is easy to see the amount of sun exposure could play a big deal in flowering, as flowering takes allot of energy, so full sun would seem to make it more likely they could continue flowering. Also of note, is that they seem to be a bit slow becoming fully established. Again being in full sun, there is greater stress on the root systems, I also have a modified clay soil (it has improved allot since we moved in due to increasing organic matter) which is another possible factor. They are also in or adjacent to a lawn that is fertilized 2X year. I fertilize in the spring as the grass starts to grow, and mid-summer when growth slows down due to lack of nitrogen. So there are periods with relatively low nitrogen levels which may be an influence as well. Don't know if any of this will help you, but this has been my experience and possible known factors influencing dogwoods to date.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 12:00PM
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So far I have 11 tree dogwoods in various stages of growth, from 3 yrs up to some 35-40 yrs old. A white one that came up from seed took 7 years to bloom, one I transplanted from the woods took about 5 yrs. My oldest one is red, and blooms heavily every year. All of them get at least morning sun, except one white 4 yr old baby that gets too much and its leaves get burned in summer. This pink one has to be at least 8 yrs old, (Cherokee, I think, I've lost the tag) it just is irritating that it was in full glorious bloom when I bought it, and zip since then.

I guess I'll just wait and see what happens in the next couple of years. Curses. It would look so wonderful blooming above the hosta bed with all those white violets at its feet!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 5:58PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Maybe they know you're mad at them.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:42PM
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i bought a pink dogwood from lowes a few weeks ago and it is blooming. thing is the blooms look white with a few tiny rusty spots of pink on them. i am wondering if i ended up with a white dogwood that was mislabeled or if it is just not mature enough yet. it is about 6-7 ft tall.
thanks for any help

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:39PM
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I have the same issues with my dogwood. I planted a Pink Dogwood 2 years ago and it hasn't bloomed since we bought it at the store. Also, it seems to have a leaf fungus problem. After the leaves grow green in May,June the leaves start to turn powdery gray by August. On a website it said that a Dogwood fungus started in Kentucky around 1990 and has been spreading ever since. Apparently, it's usually not fatal to the tree but kills the leaves before fall. It said that some Hybrid Dogwoods are resistant to the fungus (like the Stellar, Constellation varieties).

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 8:39AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Which cultivar do you have? There are numerous reports of 'Stellar Pink' not blooming for years after planting...up to 5 years.

I bought one dormant and sure enough thing didn't have any flower buds yet the white flowering versions had too many to count!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 9:37AM
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We have a Cornus Florida Rubra. This one is not a Hybrid so it seems to be prone to that new Leaf Fungus which started in Kentucky. This year will be the 3rd year we've had it. So far no blooms except for a few that were on there at the Garden Center the 1st year.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 11:18AM
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Here where I have been living, in the mid-Atlantic and middle South, I've noticed that nearly any native dogwood that had been growing in shade has tended to get diseased and die, while dogwoods that are growing in strong sun have seemed to stay healthy. I figure that the strong, drying sun protects dogwoods from anthracnose. Does this new fungus from Kentucky seem to be attacking trees mainly in shady locations, like anthracnose, or is it also a problem in strong sun?

On a positive note, I just bought my sister a cornus florida "Appalachian Spring". I'm so excited! I read about this disease-resistant cultivar years ago, and have never before seen it available for sale. Do any of you have any experience with this tree? Does it seem to live up to the hype? She loves it, but she's only had it for a week at this point.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 10:05PM
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Yes, our Pink Dogwood is located in partial shade. I have read on some websites that dogwoods which are located in full sun are not as susceptible to anthracnose, etc. Guess we should have planted it in full sun...

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 2:18PM
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Here is some interesting info on the Dogwood Leaf Fungus:

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:50PM
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i have a white Dog in part sun and a pink Dog in full sun...both just planted.

i am curious to see how they do.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 4:06PM
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I planted a white dogwood (seedling bare roots) about 11 yrs ago and it hasn't flowered yet, it's in the shade

yesterday I purchased a pink dogwood and I plan on planting it in a mostly sunny location to see if it performs better than the one in the shade.

I remember reading that to turn around a stubborn dogwood, we should keep the hair when we get haircuts and sprinkling them at the base of the plant...I've tried that but still no blooms

Thank you all, I'm learning so much from your comments :)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Vigorously growing dogwoods tend to do so at the expense of flowers.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 9:48PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

no flowering tree should get a hair cut...

are you cutting off all the buds when you do such???
timing is imperative ...

when are you trimming it


    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 7:29AM
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Ken, if you're directing your questions to me....I wasn't saying to give the tree a haircut, I said that I read that using our hair can benefit a dogwood that don't flower, they were suggesting we sprinkle the hair at the base of the tree

...sorry I wasn't clear :)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 9:48PM
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Planted a 8-10' Stellar Pink this past spring in pretty much full sun. I've heard many stories of woe regarding the following years after initially planting a pink dogwood. We had an unusually cold and rainy spring this year as well. Have an irrigation system but I also watered it every non-rainy day the first two weeks after planting and every other for the 3rd week. Tended to it during periods of drought this summer too. There is a 1-2' ring of mulch around the base. Noticed a lot of lower smaller twiggy branches and ones on the interior have dried up. Also the leaves started turning red (their proper fall color) about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Isn't that too early? Is it a sign of something else? Should I be doing something right now? I am nervous going into this tree's first winter. Any thoughts...or am I worrying about nothing?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 9:01AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Seems a bit early. My dogwood with the damage at the base and my other one which is suddenly in more sun have both been showing some fall color for about the same amount of time also.

How do the other dogwoods in your area look?

That is a pretty decent size transplant. I bet it is living but still establishing itself.

Digging around can you tell how much moisture the ground near the trunk has? These fellas can be picky I understand. Not like a weeping willow which you can't over water. Also sometimes your native soil could drain better than what came with the tree so it is best to check manually if you have not been.

Good luck, nice tree.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 2:54PM
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Yea my neighbors very established (yellowish flowers) dogwood has the same colored leaves now that you mention it...and they are slightly curled like mine. Guess I'm a little worried bc my Stellar Pink has some twiggy dieback and it's new and the winter's coming. So...I'm not feeling very confident at the moment. I will check around the soil and see. Haven't seen any outward signs of a borer or anything but I'm not a pest expert so it doesn't mean it's not there. Thanks for replying! :-)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 3:57PM
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I wonder if my little pink Dogwood is still alive, considering the extreme low temps we've been having

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 5:07PM
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