How to root a dogwood tree branch

How to Grow Dogwood From a Branch | Home Guides

By Doug Johnson Updated October 19, 2020

Propagating dogwood (Cornus spp.) from a branch of an existing tree is quite easy, and considering the beautiful flowers and foliage that dogwood trees can produce, it is also rewarding. A dogwood branch from a healthy specimen can produce a strong tree, and most of the things needed for the process can be purchased from a garden center or found readily at home.

Dogwood Species and Basics

According to Britannica, the term "dogwood" can be applied to several species of herbs, trees and shrubs that are part of the Cornaceae family. They are popular ornamentals around the world, though they are native to Europe, eastern Asia and North America. Those interested in propagating dogwood should know that a kind of blight called dogwood anthracnose has caused a great deal of damage to the trees since the 1970s, particularly in parts of the eastern United States.

The bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), which grows in USDA zones 2 to 6, is a creeping perennial herb beloved for its showy, leaf-like structures, called brackets, that grow under its small flowers. Meanwhile, the Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), which grows in USDA zones 4 to 8, is a tree that is regularly grown both as an ornamental and for its fruit. There are many other dogwood species, including several shrub species that grow colorful twigs that can appear in reds, purples and yellows.

Propagating Dogwood From Cuttings

According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, dogwood shrubs are among the shrub varieties that can be propagated using softwood cuttings, normally in late May to early June and taken from the year's new growth. Softwood cuttings from dogwood species should be flexible but should also be able to snap to show it is mature enough. The softwood cuttings should be between 4 and 6 inches long, and pinching off the leaves on the lower half of the cutting is usually a good idea. North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension suggests a similar process for hard or semihard wood cuttings, though it also suggests trying with multiple specimens to increase the chances of getting a healthy plant.

Take a healthy-looking cutting from an established tree using a sharp and clean knife. Stick the cutting in a moist growing medium that has good drainage, such as perlite or vermiculite. Ensure that the containers holding the cuttings from the dogwood plants have holes in the bottom. Water the soil and let the water drain out before inserting the cuttings. It could also be a good idea to soak the cuttings in a rooting hormone to ensure that they grow strong roots. Cover the cuttings with plastic wrap and keep them in bright but not direct light. Keep checking on the cuttings and stay patient, as it can take years for the cuttings to grow to a good size.

Dogwood Species Care

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Cornelian cherry dogwood tree grows quite well in well-drained soil and in full sun to part shade. Keep the soil moist and organically rich for optimum health. Meanwhile, the bunchberry prefers medium moisture, well-drained soils and part shade, notes the Missouri Botanical Garden. It tends to fare better in colder climates, and the deciduous shrub can do quite well in the shade of other taller plants and trees. That said, it cannot handle excessively warm weather.

Among the myriad dogwood species, the bunchberry is quite resistant to dogwood anthracnose, and it is quite resistant to many other kinds of insects and diseases. However, it can be difficult for these plants to establish themselves. Cornus mas has solid resistance to anthracnose and dogwood borer, but under stress, it can become more vulnerable to these issues. It is also susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf and twig blight and root rot.

Things You Will Need


  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Cornus canadensis
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Cornus mas
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Propagation of Deciduous Shrubs from Softwood Cuttings
  • Britannica: Dogwood
  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Propagating a Flowering Dogwood Tree

Writer Bio

Doug Johnson is a Canadian writer, editor and journalist.

The Propagation of Dogwood Trees | Home Guides

By Drue Tibbits Updated April 19, 2022

Dogwood trees (​Cornus​ spp.) show off their white or pink flowers by blooming in the spring, just as the leaves are emerging from winter dormancy. These deciduous trees reach 30 feet tall with a 35-foot spread. Although you can grow these plants from seed, propagating dogwood trees from cuttings and using layering techniques offer the highest success rates.

Considerations When propagating Dogwood

No matter which propagation method is used, starting new dogwood plants is a long process. It takes at least several months to develop a viable plant from layering, while seeds can take more than a year to germinate. Gathering seeds from your neighbor’s dogwood hybrid is not recommended, as you may not end up with a true copy of the parent tree. Hybrids are created to maximize specific traits such as disease resistance or flower production, and the best way to duplicate these traits is with cuttings or layering.

Propagating Dogwood Cuttings

Propagating dogwood trees can be done by using either softwood or hardwood cuttings. Cuttings have the best chance of rooting when taken at the correct time of year. The Gardeners' World website notes that softwood cuttings are taken in summer from branches that are still flexible but firm enough to snap when bent. In the winter, hardwood cuttings are taken from branches that have hardened and are no longer flexible. The best cuttings are terminal shoot tips that are 3 inches long and have two sets of leaves.

Not all dogwood cuttings will succeed, so it’s a good idea to plant several cuttings. The cut ends are dipped in rooting hormone, then buried in a pot filled with rooting medium. Cuttings must be kept moist and protected from direct sunlight until they become established. Roots develop in four to eight weeks, but the new plants should remain in a protected environment until the following spring when they can be planted outdoors.

Layering Dogwood Trees

Propagating dogwood trees by layering has a higher success rate than using cuttings. Layering involves bending a flexible branch low enough that a portion of the branch touches the ground. That portion of the branch is then notched, treated with rooting hormone and buried in the soil. The leafy end of the branch extends above the soil and will become the top of the new tree once the buried branch develops roots.

This technique works best with dormant wood in early spring or mature wood in late summer. The ground around the buried branch must be kept moist until roots appear, a process that may take several months. The rooted section is cut away from the main plant in early autumn or the following spring, and planted in a new location.

Growing Dogwood Trees From Seeds

The seeds of dogwood hybrids are often sterile, but viable seeds are available commercially. They can also be gathered from non-hybrid dogwood trees growing in the wild. According to the Garden & Greenhouse website, dogwood seeds require a long period of stratification before they will germinate. Seeds sown outdoors in September or October germinate the following March or April, although some seeds won’t germinate until the next year.

Once they begin sprouting, young dogwood plants tend to be weak and require protection from the sun and wind for several months. Because of this, dogwood seeds are often started in containers, where they can be kept in a protected environment until they are stronger. Seeds started in containers are buried in a moist growing medium and then kept at 35 to 41 F for 120 days. After this stratification period, the seeds are warmed to 60 to 80 F to break dormancy and induce germination.

Young dogwoods have sensitive roots, and allowing the seedlings to grow for three years before transplanting gives them the best chance for survival.


  • Gardeners' World: How to Take Dogwood Cuttings
  • Garden & Greenhouse: How to Grow Beautiful, Flowering Dogwood Trees From Seed

Writer Bio

Drue Tibbits is a writer based in Central Florida, where she attended Florida Southern College. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur and Your Home magazines. She has also been profiled in the Florida Today newspaper and the Writer's Digest magazine. In addition to writing brochure copy for local businesses, she helps new start-up companies develop a local image presence.

Home Dogwood breeding methods
  • Growing dogwood from stone
  • Video: Reproduction of dogwood from bone
  • Propagation by cuttings
  • Propagation by grafting
  • Propagation by layering
  • Care
  • Dogwood pruning
  • Dogwood pests and diseases

    • Garden
    • Dogwood
    • Growing dogwood
    • Dogwood propagation and care step by step


    Modern horticulture is replete with a huge variety of fruit bushes, among which dogwood is one of the most valuable. Many gardeners are in a hurry not only to grow the most productive bush, but also to propagate it. However, this procedure is not always successful. The article discusses step by step the main methods of dogwood propagation, and also lists the main conditions for its long and successful fruiting.

    Growing dogwood from stone

    Germination of the stone is one of the most complex and time-consuming processes of dogwood reproduction. This is due to the fact that such biological material is characterized by low viability, so seedlings appear only under the most favorable conditions. At the same time, dogwood seedlings grow rather slowly and bear fruit no earlier than 7 years after germination. That is why only breeders decide to grow shrubs in this way during the breeding of a new variety.

    However, in the absence of planting material, gardeners often decide to germinate seeds as well. For this, several green fruits are selected, devoid of any pathological changes and infections, as well as pests. From each berry, seeds are carefully selected, and then they are immediately sown in the ground in a permanent place. Before wintering, seedlings are provided with moderate watering and protection from weeds. The first shoots of such seeds appear no earlier than the spring of next year.

    You can also take ripe seeds for sowing, but it is necessary to stratify them. The procedure involves damage to the dense skin of the seeds, which increases not only their germination, but also the energy of growth. To perform the procedure, small wood chips should be placed in a small container, and then seeds should be placed in it at a depth of about 1-2 cm. Next, the container should be well watered and placed in a moderately lit place.

    Video: Reproduction of dogwood from the stone

    Maintaining high humidity, the seeds germinate for about 12 months, after which the young sprouts need to dive into separate containers with well-fertilized sandy loamy soil. Under such conditions, plants should be kept for at least 1–2 years, as soon as the seedling lengthens to 10–15 cm, it can be successfully transplanted into the garden. The procedure is carried out around the end of April, while the distance between neighboring plants should be at least 20 cm.

    Read, pear-shaped dogwood: benefits and harms, agricultural cultivation.

    Propagation by cuttings

    Dogwood cuttings are carried out in two ways: green or lignified parts of the bush. A green cutting is taken approximately in the first half of summer, it is used by the central part of annual shoots, about 10–20 cm long. ”) for 5-6 hours. Next, each seedling is planted in partial shade in loose and well-fertilized soil (about 5-6 kg of humus / 1 m² should be added to the soil), providing moderate humidity.

    Lignified parts of shrubs are taken in late autumn, a few weeks before preparation for wintering. Suitable for this is the middle part of young shoots no more than 3–4 years old, abundantly covered with leaves (15–20 cm long). Planting material is planted in the soil around mid-April, until this time it is stored in a refrigerator at a temperature of +5 ... + 10 ° C.

    Before planting on cuttings, damaged and withered leaves are removed, after which they are soaked for 5-6 hours in a solution of any growth stimulator. Lignified cuttings are planted in well-fertilized and loose soil; with moderate watering throughout the season, they will successfully take root by wintering.

    Important! Only mature bushes, at least 7–10 years old, free of signs of damage by insect pests or specific infections, are suitable for taking cuttings.

    Propagation by grafting

    Grafting (budding) is ideal for growing dogwood in areas where this shrub occurs wild and often becomes a weed crop. In order to ennoble such a bush, it is enough to graft just a small fragment of the fruit species. Such a procedure is performed around August-first half of September, while spring vaccination is considered ineffective.

    The basic technology of budding has the same steps as the grafting of any fruit tree or shrub:

    1. A small piece of the shoot should be cut from the scion along with a viable leaf bud (the main cut should be as smooth as possible). At the same time, for the success of the procedure, at least 2-3 kidneys should be grafted.
    2. On the rootstock (wild shrub) you should choose the healthiest young branch no more than 3 years old, and then create a small T-shaped incision on it approximately in the middle. This is done in such a way that it is possible to separate the lignified bark, leaving the core intact.
    3. After that, with a clerical knife, carefully separate the bark from the wood, and place the graft with the bud into the resulting "pocket" and fix the grafting site with adhesive tape.
    4. If the process went well, the kidney retains its viability and does not wither. After about 3 weeks, the adhesive tape must be removed.
    5. In the spring, a young shoot will start to grow from the rootstock, it should be gradually cultivated, and all nearby ones should be removed. Thus, a central branch should form from the grafted bud, which will become the basis of the entire bush.

    Propagation by cuttings

    This propagation method is one of the easiest ways to get a full garden in just a few seasons. Layers are obtained from young shoots no more than 2 years old, their top must be dug to a depth of about 5 cm, and a small hill about 10 cm high must be poured on top. Rooting of shoots occurs throughout the year, all this time during the active vegetation of the bush, the soil is regularly moistened .

    As soon as the seedlings form the root system, the shoot is cut and transplanted, and a full-fledged cutting should be formed, at least 25 cm long. Bushes can be removed throughout the growing season, but the beginning of September is best suited for this, while the success of the procedure will require no less than 3-5 layers.


    Dogwood is considered an unpretentious horticultural crop, so even after planting young seedlings in open soil, they do not require complex care. The main thing at the same time is not to forget to water the seedlings well. In the first year, this is done 2 times a week, the next two - about 1-2 times a week.

    Subsequently, watering is carried out as needed, as the substrate dries. The procedure is carried out so as to completely wet the top layer of soil, about 50 cm deep. In addition, as the bush grows and develops, it is recommended to carefully cut it.

    Dogwood pruning

    Shrub pruning is to create a tall, highly productive trunk, about 50 cm high. The main basis of such a shrub is about 5 skeletal branches arranged in several tiers. Pruning often begins from the 3rd year, all lateral processes are cut off on the bush, keeping the top with several rudiments of skeletal branches.

    As the plant grows and develops, only the most powerful and active branches are left on it, all other shoots are removed. After several seasons of such care, the bush will acquire a characteristic tiered structure, after which the skeletal branches should be cut to one length and shortened by at least a third.

    Important! Shrub formation is best done in spring, the most suitable time for sanitary cleaning is the second half of autumn.

    In the future, dogwood retains its acquired crown shape, so adult bushes are only sanitary cleaned. In this case, all unproductive, damaged or withered shoots, as well as all unwanted shoots, are subject to removal. Approximately in the 20th year after planting, the shrub should be rejuvenated. During the procedure, it is recommended to cut off all branches about 4–6 years old, this will stimulate the bush to form many young shoots.

    Dogwood pests and diseases

    In most cases, dogwood has a fairly high immunity and resistance to various diseases and pests, so gardeners practically do not encounter this problem. However, with various care errors, young seedlings can still be affected by various invasions. Among the pests, most often on the dogwood you can find a worm, which can be dealt with with the help of any complex insecticide (Tagor, Novaktion, Kemifos, Fufanon, Danadim, etc.).

    To prevent the appearance of the pest, it is necessary to dispose of the infected planting material, as well as to fight the spread of ants on the site.

    The most dangerous dogwood infections:

    Name Preparations for prevention and treatment
    Rust Kuproksat, Strobi, Vectra, Polyram, Bordeaux mixture Hom, Quadris, Skor, Vitaros, Previkur
    Spotting 4% Bordeaux mixture solution

    Dogwood is one of the slowest growing fruit shrubs in horticulture, so propagating it is not so easy. However, with proper care and daily attention, getting a productive shrub garden is quite easy. To do this, you can use almost any type of plant propagation. The most effective and simplest of them is the vegetative (asexual) method, which involves rooting fragments of the mother bush.

    Tags: Shrubs Berry bushes

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    Green cuttings of dogwood: propagating dogwood, how to propagate dogwood

    CORNUS (Cornus mas. L.) is a southern fruit plant. It is widely distributed in Moldova and the Crimea, Ukraine and the Caucasus, growing along river valleys, on the edges of forests and mountains. The fruits are of great value for processing. From them prepare jam, jam, marmalade, refreshing syrups.

    Forest forms of dogwood do not bear fruit regularly enough; their fruits are small, low-juicy, especially in hot, dry years, with a relatively large stone (25-30% by weight of the fruit), which is a significant drawback. As a result of long-term folk selection, large-fruited garden forms of dogwood have been identified. Their fruits are usually two to three times larger than forest ones. The most famous and described in the literature are such forms as the Sultan, Tsaregradsky, Red large-fruited, Yellow large-fruited, Spanish.

    The forms of garden dogwood we have identified have fruits weighing 8 grams, in which the stone is 8-11%.

    The share of garden dogwood in plantations is very insignificant. This is due to the fact that effective methods of its reproduction have not yet been studied and developed. Therefore, not a single industrial nursery in the Crimea and other regions grows garden dogwood seedlings.

    Propagation of garden dogwood by root offspring, stem cuttings and grafting on forest dogwood proved to be ineffective due to the low multiplication factor and poor survival of eyes. In addition, dogwood seeds have a very long dormant period and seedlings often appear 2 and 3 years after sowing. Hence, it takes about 5 years (from the moment of seed stratification) to grow two-year-old rootstocks, and 7 years for standard two-year-old seedlings. Naturally, such a very long process of producing planting material cannot be considered satisfactory.

    This circumstance made it necessary to look for more effective ways of dogwood breeding. In 1962, at the Crimean Horticulture Experimental Station, a method of vegetative propagation was tested - with green cuttings. It turned out that green cuttings root very well (90-96%), forming a developed root system.

    For rooting cuttings, we use cold above-ground gable greenhouses of the Belgian type. We plant up to 20 thousand cuttings in each greenhouse and cover with light frames covered with plastic wrap. Inside the greenhouse (under the ridge) there is an air pipe with seven nozzles, to which compressed air is supplied from the compressor at a pressure of 5-6 atmospheres. Between the greenhouses (along) underground, main air and water pipes are laid. The latter is connected to a water tower, which provides a pressure of 1.5 atmospheres. The simultaneous supply of compressed air and water to the nozzles creates an artificial fog. This makes it possible to uniformly moisten the substrate and maintain a high relative humidity (95-97%) in greenhouses. This setup makes watering much easier.

    At the bottom of the greenhouse for drainage, we pour pebbles with a layer of 8-10 centimeters, then a mixture of peat with granular sand (in a ratio of 1: 1) with a layer of 12-15 centimeters and sand 2 centimeters on top. To ensure the optimum temperature (plus 18-30 °) and create diffused light, a frame is mounted above the greenhouse, on which we hang burlap. We plant the cuttings with a marker at a distance of 5X5 centimeters and a depth of 2 centimeters. Before planting, we water the soil abundantly, and keep the cuttings for 15-17 hours in a solution of KANU (potassium salt of alpha-naphthylacetic acid) at the rate of 30 milligrams per liter of water.

    Cuttings with an apical bud and 2-4 leaves root better. We make the lower cut on the handle directly under the kidney.

    The most suitable time for cuttings is the first half of June, that is, the period of intensive growth of shoots. Cuttings must be cut first of all from the main shoots as more developed. In planted cuttings, roots usually form in 1-1.5 months. Caring for them consists in daily watering 4-5 times for 2-2.5 months, removing weeds, and so on.

    In August, the frames are opened for the night, in September - also during the daytime; in the future, we remove the frames and burlap completely. At the end of October, rooted cuttings are dug up and planted in a nursery for growing or left in greenhouses until spring. In 1963, 60,000 green dogwood cuttings were rooted in the greenhouses of the station, including 30,000 planted in a nursery.

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