McCoy Horticultural | Native Plant at a Glance – Cornus florida

May 2020: Cornus florida, common name flowering dogwood

Cornus florida in mid Spring
  • Best grown in the part shade of an understory 
  • Deep shade or full sun is not recommended: 
    • Will grow in dense shade, although flowering will be minimal to none. 
    • Will grow in full sun, however, it becomes susceptible to scalding issues and other stresses.
  • Dry to moderate soil moisture is best. 
  • Neither extreme drought nor wet sights are acceptable.
  • Anthracnose and powdery mildew can be problematic. However, anecdotal evidence by McCoy Horticultural has found that foliar applications of good biologically active compost tea may provide suppression of foliar diseases.
  • Deer resistance is low.

Ecological values: 

  • Attracts native bees
  • Hosts Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) caterpillar
  • Attracts predatory or parasitoid insects that prey upon pest insects
  • Improves soil (Its leaf litter decomposes more rapidly than most other species.) 
  • Seeds (high calcium and fat content) are consumed by many bird types including songbirds, forest edge species, and wild turkey, and small mammals such as the eastern chipmunk, white-footed mouse, gray fox, gray squirrel, black bear, beaver, white-tailed deer, and skunk.
  • Beaver, rabbits, and deer browse the leaves and sprouts of the plant. 
  • Provides shelter and habitat for many wildlife species

Legal Status:

  • Endangered in Maine, exploitably vulnerable in New York, and threatened in Vermont


Cornus florida in the landscape