Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida ‘Royal Red’)

Plant: Table of Contents

All About Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’)

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’) is a stunning and popular tree known for its vibrant red flowers and beautiful appearance. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of this remarkable plant, including its characteristics, cultivation, uses, and maintenance. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice plant enthusiast, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the world of flowering dogwoods.

What is Plant: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’)?

Flowering dogwood, scientifically known as Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’, is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America. Recognized for its showy blooms, this tree belongs to the Cornaceae family and typically reaches a height of 15-30 feet, with a spread of 15-30 feet when fully mature.

Key Takeaways – Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’)

Before we delve further into the details, let’s take a quick look at some key takeaways regarding the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’):

  • Flowering dogwood varieties and cultivars
  • Characteristics of Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’
  • Dogwood tree with red flowers
  • Best dogwood trees for landscaping
  • Growing flowering dogwoods in your garden
  • Choosing the right dogwood for your yard
  • Top ornamental dogwood trees
  • Red-flowering dogwood for vibrant landscapes
  • Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’ care tips
  • Dogwood tree with showy red blooms

Now, let’s explore the cultivation, uses, and maintenance of this captivating plant.



  1. Ornamental Purposes: The flowering dogwood is primarily cultivated for its ornamental value, as it adds a vibrant splash of color to gardens and landscapes, especially during the spring season when it blooms.

  2. Wildlife Attraction: Additionally, the tree serves as a valuable resource for wildlife, attracting birds and other small creatures due to its flowers, berries, and overall structure.

  3. Cultural Significance: In many regions, flowering dogwoods hold cultural and symbolic importance, often being incorporated into traditional festivities and rituals.


Proper watering is essential for the health and vitality of flowering dogwoods. Here are some key considerations regarding water requirements:

  • Young Trees: Newly planted or young flowering dogwoods require regular watering to establish their root systems. It is crucial to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry spells.

  • Mature Trees: Established trees generally have lower water needs, but it is important to provide supplemental irrigation during prolonged periods of drought to prevent stress and maintain overall health.


The ideal sunlight conditions for flowering dogwoods are:

  • Partial Shade: These trees thrive in partial shade, particularly during the hot summer months. They benefit from dappled sunlight, which offers protection from intense midday sun.

  • Morning Sun: Morning sunlight is preferable, as it promotes healthy growth and flowering without subjecting the tree to excessive heat stress.


Fertilization is essential for enhancing the growth and blooming of flowering dogwoods. Here are some fertilization guidelines:

  • Balanced Fertilizer: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to provide the tree with necessary nutrients for healthy development and vibrant blooms.

  • Avoid Excess Nitrogen: While fertilizing, it is crucial to avoid excessive nitrogen, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.


The soil requirements for flowering dogwoods are as follows:

  • Moist, Well-Drained Soil: These trees thrive in moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.

  • Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and provides essential nutrients as it decomposes.


Pruning is an important aspect of flowering dogwood maintenance. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Prune in Late Winter or Early Spring: Pruning is best performed during late winter or early spring while the tree is still dormant.

  • Remove Dead or Diseased Branches: Regularly inspect the tree for dead or diseased branches and promptly remove them to maintain overall health and appearance.

  • Thinning and Shaping: Lightly thinning and shaping the canopy can enhance air circulation and promote a well-balanced form.


Propagation of flowering dogwoods can be achieved through various methods, including:

  • Seeds: Growing the tree from seeds is possible but requires stratification to induce germination. This process involves exposing the seeds to cold, mimicking natural winter conditions.

  • Cuttings: Softwood or hardwood cuttings can be used to propagate flowering dogwoods. Softwood cuttings are typically taken in early summer, while hardwood cuttings are collected during late fall or winter.

Container Popularity

Flowering dogwoods are also suitable for cultivation in containers, especially for those with limited outdoor space or for individuals looking to bring a touch of beauty to patios and balconies. Container-grown dogwoods require proper care and maintenance, including adequate watering, sunlight, and occasional repotting to ensure their health and longevity.

Common Diseases

While flowering dogwoods are prized for their beauty, they are susceptible to certain diseases that can affect their overall vigor. Some common diseases include:

  1. Anthracnose: This fungal disease can cause defoliation, twig dieback, and cankers on the tree. Proper cultural practices and resistant cultivars can help mitigate the impact of anthracnose.

  2. Powdery Mildew: Characterized by a white powdery growth on the leaves, powdery mildew can affect the overall aesthetics of the tree. Adequate air circulation and proper sanitation can aid in its prevention.

  3. Dogwood Anthracnose: Caused by the fungus Discula destructiva, this disease can lead to severe damage, including leaf browning, dieback, and ultimately, tree death. Selecting resistant cultivars and implementing proper management practices are crucial for control.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing diseases affecting flowering dogwoods requires careful observation and understanding of the symptoms associated with specific pathogens or environmental stressors. Consulting with local agricultural extension services or experienced arborists can aid in accurate disease diagnosis and the formulation of effective management strategies.

Common Pests

In addition to diseases, flowering dogwoods can also fall prey to various pests, including:

  1. Dogwood Borer: The larvae of dogwood borers tunnel into the tree, causing extensive damage and weakening its overall health. Proper monitoring and prompt intervention are essential for controlling this pest.

  2. Scale Insects: These small, immobile pests can infest the branches and leaves of flowering dogwoods, leading to stunted growth and yellowing foliage. Insecticidal treatments and horticultural oils can help manage scale infestations.

  3. Dogwood Sawfly: The larvae of dogwood sawflies can defoliate the tree if left unchecked. Vigilant monitoring and the application of appropriate insecticides are essential for preventing significant damage.

Botanist’s Tips

From a botanist’s perspective, here are some valuable tips for cultivating and caring for flowering dogwoods:

  • Select Cultivars Wisely: When choosing a flowering dogwood for your garden or landscaping project, consider the specific characteristics of different cultivars, such as flower color, growth habit, and disease resistance.

  • Promote Biodiversity: Integrate flowering dogwoods into diverse ecosystems to support local wildlife and create visually engaging landscapes.

  • Monitor for Signs of Stress: Regularly monitor your trees for signs of stress, including wilting, discoloration, or abnormal growth, and take appropriate measures to address underlying issues promptly.

Fun Facts

To enrich your understanding and appreciation of flowering dogwoods, here are some intriguing fun facts about these trees:

  1. State Tree of Missouri: Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is the official state tree of Missouri, symbolizing its cultural and ecological significance.

  2. Medicinal Uses: Some Native American tribes historically utilized parts of the flowering dogwood for medicinal purposes, including treatments for various ailments and conditions.

  3. Wildlife Support: The flowers and later the fruits of the dogwood tree provide essential nourishment for numerous bird species and small mammals, contributing to local biodiversity.

  4. Heirloom Varieties: Several heirloom cultivars of flowering dogwoods have been preserved over generations, attesting to their enduring popularity and importance in horticultural traditions.

Links to External Resources

For further information and resources about flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’), explore the following links:


Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’) is undeniably a remarkable tree that offers unparalleled beauty and ecological significance. Its striking red flowers, cultural symbolism, and value to wildlife make it a cherished addition to gardens, landscapes, and natural habitats. By understanding its cultural, cultivation, and maintenance requirements, gardening enthusiasts and nature lovers can further appreciate and contribute to the conservation of this iconic tree. Whether you are considering planting a flowering dogwood in your yard or seeking to enhance your knowledge of horticulture, this guide provides valuable insights into the captivating world of Cornus florida ‘Royal Red’.

1. Dogwood Diseases. (n.d.). Clemson Cooperative Extension – Clemson University. Retrieved from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/dogwood-diseases/
2. Skilling, D. (2015). Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’ and ‘Royal Red’. Illinois State Arboretum – Gooding. Urbana, IL. 61801. United States.
3. Miller, T. (2012). Native dogwoods for Atlantic Canada. Nursery and Landscape. 22. 1–10.
4. Dogwood (Cornus Florida) A. (2019), W sufity.). The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Almanac Publishing Co. 1121 Main Street, P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444.

Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.