Dogwoods Bred Tough

Dogwoods found in forests are eye-catching, but should probably not be placed in the backyard.

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By Christine Arpe Gang, Scripps Howard News Service

Native dogwoods that grow wild along the edges of the forests are among the best-loved flowering trees, but problems arise when we try to integrate them into our own landscapes.

The native dogwood needs good drainage and afternoon shade to survive, said Jesse Howley, a garden designer at Trees by Touliatos, a Memphis, Tenn. firm. Even in ideal conditions, they are susceptible to several diseases and insects.

Howley thinks the best solution to the dogwood dilemma is substituting hybrids that cross disease-resistant Chinese kousa dogwoods with the native flowering dogwoods.

"The blooms and foliage are similar to flowering dogwood, but the trees have all the disease resistance and improved environmental tolerance of the kousas," Howley said.

So if you are in the market for a dogwood, look for hybrids with the following names: Stellar Pink, Constellation and Celestial.

(Contact Christine Arpe Gang of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., at www.gomemphis.com.)

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