Flowering Dogwood trees can be easily grown from seed,
however 99.9999% of the seedlings that sprout will be Cornus
Florida, which is White Flowering Dogwood. It doesn't matter
if you collect the seeds from a White Dogwood or a Pink
Dogwood, the seedlings are likely to be white.
The only predictable way to grow a Pink Dogwood, Red
Dogwood, or one of the beautiful Dogwoods with variegated
leaves, is to bud or graft the desired variety onto a White
Dogwood seedling. That's why the botanical name for Pink
Dogwood is Cornus Florida Rubra. Cornus means Dogwood, Florida
indicates White, Rubra indicates Red or Pink. Cornus Florida
Rubra indicates Pink Dogwood grown on White Dogwood rootstock.
Between budding and grafting, budding is the most
common technique used in the nursery industry.
Grafting is usually done in the late winter months when
the plants are dormant. When you graft a plant you remove a
small branch (4 to 6 inches) from the desired variety, trim the
end of the branch to expose the tissue under the bark and then
trim a taper on the end. You then trim the seedling in such a
way to match and receive the branch you are grafting on to it.
Timing, temperature, and humidity are all critical to the
success of the procedure, which is usually done in a greenhouse.
Budding is much easier, and does not have to be done in
a controlled environment. Most budding is done later in the
summer when the bark on the seedling slips easily. That means
that when a cut is made in the bark of the seedling it can be
easily pulled away from the tissue layer under the bark. This
tissue is known as the cambium layer. Here in the north
Crabapples and other fruits are usually ready to bud around mid
to late July, while Dogwoods are not ready until late August.
Unlike grafting where you use a small branch to attach
to the seedling, when you bud you insert a single bud under the
bark. Budding is usually done down low on the seedling, very
close to the soil. You can bud up higher, but any new grow
that appears below that bud must be removed because it will be
identical to the rootstock and not the desired variety. The
budding process is quite simple.
Just clip a branch from the tree of the desired
variety, this is known as a bud stick because it has many buds
that can be used for budding. The buds can be found at the
base of each leaf. Look closely where the leaf emerges from
the branch and you will see a very small bud. In the fall when
the tree goes dormant the leaf will fall off, and bud will
remain, the following spring the bud will grow into a new
branch. When you slip that bud under the bark of a compatible
seedling, it will grow the following spring just as if it were
still on the parent plant, with all of the qualities of the
desired variety. All most all fruit bearing and ornamental
trees are grown this way.
Just make a "T" shaped cut in the bark of the
seedling. A horizontal cut about ¼" long, with a vertical
downward cut about ½" long. The two cuts should intersect at
the top of the "T". Don't cut into the cambium tissue, just
slice the bark and open it up slightly with your knife or razor
Now you are ready to remove the bud from the bud
stick. First clip off and discard the leaf from the bud that
you are about to remove. When you remove the leaf, leave the
stem attached to the bud stick, just remove the leaf itself.
The stem makes a nice little handle to hold on to.
To remove the bud from the bud stick just cut into the
bark and under the bud, it should pop off easily. Again, don't
cut into the cambium tissue, but make sure you are under the
bark so you don't damage the bud. Along with the bud you will
have a small piece of bark shaped like a tiny banana peel, and
the stem from the leaf.
Holding the bud by it's handle (the stem) slide it into
the "T" shaped cut you made on the seedling. Make sure you put
it in right side up. The stem and the leaf should protrude
through the slit, and the stem should be pointing toward the
sky at an angle. Push the bud all the way down into the slit
by catching the bark, (Not the Bud) with the tip of your
knife. Now cut a rubber band so that it is no longer a loop
and wrap it around the seedling to close the opening so dirt,
water, air, and insects can't get in. Make a wrap below the
bud, and a few wraps above the bud. Use a rubber band approx.
¼" wide, and be careful not to wrap too close to the bud, nor
to tight. You don't want to strangle the seedling, it needs to
be healthy and happy so the new bud will bond to the cambium
Leave the rubber band on until early spring, at which
time you should remove it, and clip off the top of the seedling
just above the bud. As the plant comes out of dormancy the
bud will begin to grow into a new branch just as if it is still
attached to the parent plant, except that now it is going to
grow upright and form the stem of a tree.
When this new growth reaches a height of 3 to 4 feet,
clip the tip off, this will force it to start putting on
lateral branches. Once these lateral branches are 18" long or
so, you can remove all the growth from the stem below where the
lateral branches start. Now the plant should look like a
beautiful little tree.
And that makes you the proud parent!
With all of that said, today it is possible to grow
Pink Dogwoods by rooting cuttings under intermittent mist,
however, it is tricky, and my few attempts have failed. ???
Most nurseryman still bud them.
About The Author
If you have questions for Mike McGroarty visit his website,
http://www.freeplants.com and post them on the message board
where you can learn lots of gardening tips and communicate with
other gardeners. While at his website you can learn how to
start your own profitable backyard nursery. If you would like
a copy of Mike's booklet, "The Secret of Growing Landscape
Plants from Scratch", send .00 to: Garden Secrets, P.O. Box
338, Perry, Ohio 44081
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