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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville: The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee annual Perennial Plant Sale at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 21: Herb & Craft Fair hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Top quality perennial and annual herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native and companion plants, along with food and craft items reflecting an interest in the homemade and homegrown: fresh homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, barbecue sauces, jams and jellies; knitted and sewn items, homes for birds and bees, and art, jewelry and more made from pressed flowers. Visit www.thefuun.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival, hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibiters, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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Flowers are a no-show

Our dogwood tree has not flowered the past 2 years.  Do we need to feed it or treat the soil?  Otherwise, it is alive and well.  

Flowering dogwood. Photo by Jeff McMillian @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

This question came to The Garden Bench early last week, and I have a couple of follow-up questions: How old is the tree? Has it bloomed before? Is it planted in sun or shade?

IMHO, flowering dogwoods are one of the best things about spring. But you plant a young one hoping for a big display of blooms, then you wait, and wait until – nothing. What a disappointment.  

Here are some things you should know about dogwoods that may help answer the question. The North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension offers a list of Top Five Reasons That Dogwoods Don’t Bloom:

  • It’s not old enough. It may take a dogwood up to six years to bloom. This could be a source of disappointment in a tree that started out as a seedling in another part of the yard, for instance.
  • It’s not getting enough sun. Dogwoods grow well in the partial shade at the edges of forests and woodlands, but they need some sunlight to produce flowers. In heavy shade, they don’t flower as well, or maybe not at all.
  • It’s affected by drought.  Dogwood trees need water, about an inch a week from rain or other irrigation sources. If it was too dry last year, no flowers this year.
  • It’s been pruned. Dogwoods set their buds on the previous year’s growth, so if you prune heavily in fall or winter, you have probably cut off a lot of the flowers for this year.
  • It’s been extremely cold. That’s usually not a problem in this area. All else being okay, dogwoods here seem to bloom no matter how cold it got in the winter.

There are more things to consider: If the tree is growing in a lawn, and you’ve fertilized the lawn with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, that could be part of the problem. Nitrogen encourages growth of foliage at the expense of flowers.

In general, here’s what a dogwood needs to grow and thrive, and eventually bloom: Light shade or full sun, and moist, acid, well-drained soil with a lot of organic matter. Remember how well they grow in a forest? Use mulch under the tree to help keep moisture in the soil – but don’t pile the mulch up around the trunk. The roots are shallow, so they are susceptible to drought in summer. Water deeply during summer dry spells.

Flowering dogwoodCornus florida

Have a garden question? Send me an e-mail.

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