Q: I have some wild dogwoods in my yard that don’t bloom very well. How can I make them do better?
A: Have you ever marveled at reports that a Kentucky Derby winner is worth millions of dollars? Why would people pay millions for a horse that looks basically the same as those you see dotting the pastures of Henry county? The answer, of course, is that the genes of two similar appearing horses can be completely different. The offspring of the race winner are likely to inherit speedy genes. The offspring of a rural horse might only inherit the ability to consume large amounts of hay and cracked corn.
Your wild dogwoods might be performing to the limits of their genetic potential and still only give you a few blooms each year. If they are growing in bright shade, have mulch spread widely around their trunks and are fertilized lightly each year, you have done all you can do to make them bloom. That’s why “named” dogwoods like ‘Cloud 9’ , ‘Cherokee Chief’ and others make such superior plants in the long run. As with children, enjoy your wild dogwoods for what they are and don’t try to make them what they’re not!