Cornus florida 'Red Pygmy'
Common Name: flowering dogwood
Type: Tree
Family: Cornaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 7.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Rose-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, acidic soils in part shade. Benefits from a 2-4” mulch which will help keep roots cool and moist in summer. May be inadvisable at this time to plant this tree in areas where dogwood anthracnose infestations are present (see problems section below).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cornus florida, commonly known as flowering dogwood, is a small deciduous tree that typically grows 15-30’ tall with a low-branching, broadly-pyramidal but somewhat flat-topped habit. It arguably may be the most beautiful of the native American flowering trees. It is native from Maine to southern Ontario to Illinois to Kansas south to Florida, Texas and Mexico. It is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia. It blooms in early spring (April) shortly after, but usually overlapping, the bloom period of the redbuds. The true dogwood flowers are actually tiny, yellowish green and insignificant, being compacted into button-like clusters. However, each flower cluster is surrounded by four showy, white, petal-like bracts which open flat, giving the appearance of a single, large, 3-4” diameter, 4-petaled, white flower. Oval, dark green leaves (3-6” long) turn attractive shades of red in fall. Bright red fruits are bitter and inedible to humans (some authors say poisonous) but are loved by birds. Fruits mature in late summer to early fall and may persist until late in the year.

‘Red Pygmy’ is a slow-growing, dwarf cultivar that will typically grow to about 3’ tall over the first 5 years, eventually maturing to 7’ in height. It is noted for its unusual and distinctive rose-red flower bracts which are a true red in color. Each bract is tipped with white at the notch. Good rusty fall color. Plant Patent Applied For (PPAF).

Problems

Flowering dogwood, when stressed, is susceptible to a rather large number of disease problems the most serious of which is dogwood anthracnose. Although this anthracnose is not yet a serious problem in Missouri, it has caused considerable devastation in parts of the eastern U.S. Plants are also susceptible to leaf spot, crown canker, root rot and leaf and twig blight. Stressed trees also become vulnerable to borers. Leaf miner and scale are less serious potential insect pests.

Garden Uses

Popular as a small specimen or in a small grouping on residential property around homes, near patios or in borders. This dwarf cultivar also makes an excellent container plant.