Dogwoods Bloom in the Conservatory

A- A A+

Dogwoods Bloom in the Conservatory

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

Flowering Dogwoods (Cornus florida) are starting to bloom in the Powell Gardens’ conservatory display. There is no better companion plant for a woodland garden theme of orchids and azaleas! Enjoy this preview of what’s to come in the gardens.
The bract first emerge with an exquisite creamy green cast. As the bracts age they turn pure white with the brownish color at the end notch. The end notch is the part of the bract that was exposed to the weather all winter as it tightly encased the clusters of flower buds inside.
You can see the clusters of flower buds at the center of the four bracts. Each bud is an individual flower and if pollinated will produce a bright red fruit. Dogwoods must have cross pollination from another tree or different cultivar to produce fruit. The two dogwood pictures above are of the cultivar ‘Cherokee Princess’ which is a huge flowered, quite reliable, white-flowering selection. ‘Ozark Spring’ (a Kansas selection) may be the best white-flowering variety for our area but it is difficult to find.

Pink Flowering Dogwood (Cornus floridaRubra‘ — more botanically accurately forma rubra) have pinkish tinged bracts and more bronze tinged foliage. Pink Dogwoods are highly variable in color from soft to deep pink. A new selection from Kansas called ‘Prairie Pink’ will be hitting the market soon and be a reliable selection for our area.

This cultivar ‘Cherokee Brave’ is a Pink Dogwood with deeper pink (almost red at first), and larger bracts with creamy white centers. The flowers age to an almost coral pink. This is a very disease resistant and sturdy cultivar, becoming widely available at local garden centers.

The pink dogwoods show some of the same greenish wash when new and backlit. Dogwoods are surely one of our most spectacular spring flowering trees. They look like a cloud of butterflies when in full bloom and since the bracts, not the petals of the tiny flowers are the show, they are one of our longest flowering trees — often colorful for a full two weeks. The bracts emerge on leafless trees which also adds to their initial ornamental appeal.
Dogwoods are fickle to transplant but are worth the extra care. Balled & Burlaped trees planted now appear to do best! They are currently available at many local nurseries. They are woodland plants so need a rich, loose, well drained soil. They need some shelter from the wind in our region so plant them on an east exposure if possible. They do not like our scorching hot summer winds and sun either. Planting them beneath open, mature oaks and hickories (just like they grow in nature) is a great option if you are so lucky. They are a premier plant with ornamental appeal at all seasons and are great for wildlife (especially migrating birds!) too. They are the official state tree of Missouri and part of the Grow Native! program. Powell Gardens’ trees should be in bloom at the end of April outside this year.
All photos taken in the Powell Gardens conservatory on March 26, 2008