Grey Dogwood Care and Use


Violmsyan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grey dogwood is a hardy, low-maintenance shrub that provides subdued beauty all year round. Around June, white flower panicles enliven the surroundings. In the late summer and early fall, white berries draw a large number of birds. And the gray bark is nicely contrasted by the reddish-pink fruit stems that survive into the winter. Dogwoods in gray are excellent for masses, groups, and borders. To be utilized as foundations, entranceways, borders, or specimen planting, they can also be cultivated as tiny trees.

A native shrub with great adaptability, gray dogwood is great for naturalizing, especially in challenging locations like ponds and stream banks. Although it is unsuitable for formal plantings due to its suckering and spreading behavior, it may be included in the shrub border and is helpful as a mass planting. White berries that are quickly consumed by birds appear in late summer after May’s clusters of creamy white blossoms.

Quick Growing Guide

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Botanical Name: Cornus racemosa

En français: cornouiller gris



Sun / Shade:

Water: Water only in the absence of rain.



Hardiness Zones:


The opposite leaves of grey dogwoods are toothless and have pronounced arching lateral veins. They also contain clusters of small, 4-petaled white blooms that set them apart from other blooming shrubs. A species of the upland forest is gray dogwood. It does well along roads that have been carved through the forest, although it does not bear excessive shade, preferring regions with thin canopies or openings. Although it can grow to heights of more than 10 feet, the average height is closer to 6 feet. Its berries, foliage, and flowers resemble those of the Red-osier Dogwood.

Showing the white fruit of Cornus racemosa grey dogwood
Grey Dogwood Berries are loved by Birds and other wildlife.

Grey Dogwood Care

Any time of the year, you can plant grey dogwood in a garden from a pot. To avoid frost, transplant bare-rooted seedlings at the end of the fall or in the early spring. The planting hole should be big enough for the roots to spread out when transplanting. Plant at a depth of two-thirds of the soil ball to promote drainage by keeping the covered soil just above the surface. After planting, thoroughly water the soil to keep it damp. To prevent water from evaporating and keep the soil cool, mulch can also be spread over the soil’s surface.


Widely found in temperate and subtropical areas, gray dogwood enjoys chilly, humid conditions. It can withstand temperatures as low as -20 °C and is cold-hardy, although it is afraid of heat. Gray dogwood can withstand droughts and uses little water. In hot summers, it is vital to guarantee a basic water supply.

Water gray dogwood once or twice every week. Increase the frequency of watering as necessary in the summer or when it’s sunny. You will need to water the plant less frequently throughout the winter because the plant absorbs water at a lower rate when it is dormant. Avoid spraying water on the foliage when watering because doing so can encourage bugs and diseases.

Soil for Grey Dogwood

Although exceedingly versatile, gray dogwood favors soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Sand should be added to the soil to help it drain better if necessary. It thrives on neutral to slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.6.


Gray dogwood may grow in a little shade, but it loves full sun. It requires 4-6 hours of sunlight every day; if it does not receive enough sun, the plant will grow worse, the color of the branches will lighten, and there will be fewer blooms and fruits.


The gray dogwood doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. Overfertilization can result in uncontrollable growth and weakened resistance. In the spring, if the soil is deficient, add a rotting organic fertilizer. If you want the tree to bloom and flourish, add potassium fertilizer. Applying fertilizer the first year after planting could harm the freshly formed root system. After a year of growth, fertilizer can be used.


Pruning is not necessary much for gray dogwood. All that has to be done is to remove any diseased, injured, or dead branches. In the winter and late fall, prune gray dogwood. In the spring or summer, pruning will result in significant sap loss from the wounds when the plant is actively growing. However, in the late fall and winter, when the gray dogwood is dormant, this won’t happen.


Gray dogwood can be grown from cuttings. In the spring, choose a branch that is growing quickly, and trim 15 cm off the top. Use sharp scissors to create a 45° bevel at the branch’s base. Take off the lower leaves, then plant the branch on some damp ground. The seedlings will take root in 4-6 weeks if you keep them warm but out of direct sunlight.

Problems and Pests

In warm, humid climates, gray dogwood is sensitive to anthracnose. A fungus causes anthracnose. Black patches on the leaves, the wilting of young leaves and shoots, and in severe cases, plant death, are all symptoms of an infected plant. As soon as you come across any sick branches or leaves, remove them and spray them with a fungicide.

In flooded soil and hot weather, gray dogwood is prone to root rot. It is a fungus that causes root rot. When a plant is infected, the rotted roots result in poor growth, wilting, and in extreme situations, death. When you locate it, immediately drain any excess water and apply a fungicide. Make sure the soil does not collect water when it is hot and humid. When transplanting, avoid planting too deeply to avoid root rot. Powdered mildew, aphids, squash bugs, and leaf spot are additional issues.

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