Approximately 45 species of mainly deciduous, with a few evergreen, small trees with simple, opposite, entire foliage – some may have brilliant autumn foliage.
Clusters of small flowers are accompanied with very showy white, pink or reddish bracts, mainly in spring, and sometimes followed by bright, attractive fruits (summer to autumn).
Generally hardy, with most suiting cool temperate to temperate climates. They are best in cool moist areas, although some occur in areas with hot/dry autumns.
Many need a warm autumn to give good early winter foliage colour and good spring flowers. All transplant easily, even as large plants. Protect from hot dry winds, and keep well watered during hot dry periods.
They are best grown in fertile, moist, well drained soils – avoid poor soil. Dogwoods generally do not need much feeding, unless growing in particularly infertile soil.
Pruning is not normally required, but they can take hard pruning for rejuvenation purposes.
Propagate from seed that has been stratified for 3-4 months after collection, or from leafy semi-hardwood or softwood tip cuttings in a warm, humid environment.
C. alba (Tartarian dogwood) – A deciduous spreading shrub to 3m tall. Shoots become deep red in winter. Insignificant small whitish flowers.
C. capitata (Himalayan Strawberry tree) - An evergreen tree 4 to 9m tall, with strawberry like fruits.
C. florida – (Flowering dogwood tree) – A deciduous small tree to 3-6m tall with broad ovate leaves and pure white bracts around tiny greenish flowers.
C. kousa –(Kousa dogwood) – A small deciduous tree to 6m with creamy-white four petal-like bracts.
C. mas -(Cornelian cherry) - A spreading deciduous tree to 6m. Attractive yellow bracts followed by bright red cherry-like fruits.
C. nuttalii - (Mountain dogwood tree) - Growing only 3-6m in cultivation, but much larger in nature, this plant has creamy-white bracts.