Site and soil conditions
Shrubby dogwoods grown for their winter stem colour (Cornus alba, C. sericea and C. sanguinea cvs.) are unfussy about their soil conditions, but they are able to thrive in damp conditions where other shrubs might fail. C. controversa (the wedding cake tree), C. alternifolia (the pagoda dogwood), C. mas (the cornelian cherry) and C. officinalis are also tolerant of a range of soil conditions.
Flowering dogwoods Cornus florida, C. kousa, C. capitata and C. nuttallii do best in well-drained but fertile soil that is rich in organic matter and neutral to acid in pH. C. kousa (from Korea and Japan), is more tolerant of neutral to alkaline conditions than are the North American species C. florida and C. nuttallii.
The creeping dogwood, Cornus canadensis, needs moist, acid soil conditions.
All Cornus species will tolerate full sun or partial shade, but those grown for their winter stem colour show better colour when grown in full sun.
Watering and feeding
Water thoroughly in dry spells, especially during the first two to five years after planting, during the establishment phase of growth. Top dress with a balanced granular or powdered fertiliser, such as Growmore or fish, blood and bone, in late winter to early spring, at a rate of 70g per sq m (2oz per sq yd). Supplement with a high potassium feed such as sulphate of potash in spring or summer if flowering seems poor, at 15g per sq m (½oz per sq yd). Mulch the root area with well-rotted organic matter in spring and/or autumn.