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Dogwoods and the garden
The name corniolo indicates several tens of shrubs widespread in Europe, in North America and in Asia; once all these plants were identified as different species of Dogwood, more research has identified some of them as belonging to other genera, but in the nursery they are still called cornus. There are many species of cornel widespread in garden cultivation, starting from cornus mas, a plant of European origin, widespread also in Italian forests; they are also very well known cornus florida, of Native American origin, the kousa, Asian, and then dozens of others, such as the alba species, the controversial and the sanguinea.
What do the dogwoods have in common
Dogwoods are deciduous shrubs, with a very elegant and pleasant development; most species produce berries of various shapes, often edible, which remain on the plant for the entire winter, if not collected. The flowers appear between the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
The flowers are small, gathered in apical inflorescences, often subtended by white bracts, which make the flowering more showy.
Apart from cornus mas, the other dogwood grown in the garden, they love a slightly acid soil, so it is essential to add peat to the hole at the time of implantation, and proceed over the years watering with rainwater, or with water left to decant for at least half day. If we see the leaves of our cornel yellowing over time, it is necessary to provide soothing fertilizer.
Dogwoods are quite demanding in terms of watering, in fact they do not tolerate drought, especially during flowering and fruiting: it is important to water regularly from April to September, intensifying watering in the event of drought or very high temperatures.
They love sunny positions, even if, not having an irrigation system, it is preferable to place them sheltered from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, to prevent the heat and the sun's rays from drying the cultivation soil quickly.
Even only a few days with a particularly dry and sultry climate can cause browning of the foliage, which often remains on the shriveled and ruined plant; we will therefore take special care of the watering of our dogwood, avoiding leaving the soil completely dry for a long time.
Many dogwoods are grown not only for the flowers, not only for the berries, but for the color of their wood: in fact some species have branches of bright color, yellow, orange or red; this color stands out very clearly in winter, when the shrub is devoid of foliage, making it particularly pleasing.
Dogwood - Cornus: Plants with late winter flowering
Commonly at the end of winter the garden starts to live again, and more or less improvised gardeners begin to arrange, clean up and prune the shrubs which, after the winter, prepare for spring.
Unfortunately, however, the scarce knowledge of the habits of our plants often deprives us of the most decorative and pleasant part: the late winter pruning of the plants that bloom on the branches of the previous year almost completely deprives us of their flowering.
While many plants, first of all roses, produce flowers only on new branches, some shrubs, such as forsythia and Judas trees, produce flowers on the wood of the previous year. In the case of the cornelian, the inflorescences bloom on the apex of the branches, where the buds are often present already in autumn: an early pruning therefore removes almost all the buds, depriving us of flowering.
In the case of the Cornus florida and kousa an indiscriminate pruning at the end of winter deprives us of the most pleasant and decorative part of the shrubs.
So when the days start to get longer, around February-March, and the risk of frost becomes a distant memory, we take our shears in hand, but remember to prune only those shrubs that will bloom on new wood. Or we remove only those portions of the branch that have been severely ruined by winter weather, and which could therefore be easy prey for mushrooms and rots.
In any case, in general the cornus do not need large pruning, having a rather slow and contained development; also a pruning after flowering will also deprive us of the fruits, which are often edible.