The dogwood is an underrated fruit tree that can surprise with its yield, despite its unpretentiousness. The dogwood is a long-lived tree, so it can produce in your garden for several generations after you. Many varieties can grow in the foothills up to altitudes in excess of 1000 metres above sea level. The fruits are most often pear-shaped. The typical colour of the fruit is deep red or dark red, although we also know a yellow variety of aloe. Many of them are interesting additions to gardens because of their taste. They ripen at the end of August and not until September. They are suitable for direct consumption, with varying sugar content, but still with a significant vitamin C content, and they also contain pectins. It is the pectins contained in them that can be used in the production of jams, marmalades and compotes.

The tree is soil-intensive. It appreciates especially alkaline, permeable soils. It is less tolerant of acid soils or soils that are polluted and degraded. Acidic soil can, however, be reversed by adding dolomite or by conventional soil liming. The dogwood is also encountered in the wild with its wild variant. It is characterised by early flowering before foliage.

Care of the plant

Planting the dogwood plant has only a few rules. The most ideal time for planting is autumn. If you have purchased a container plant, planting in the spring or during the summer is no problem. If your plant has a visible graft and is not a seedling, this graft must be above ground. The same rule applies to other fruit trees. With smaller dogwoods, it's easy to forget. Branches growing below this graft (i.e. from the rootstock) are not desirable. Individual plants should be planted 4 metres apart if the intention is to grow the dogwood for maximum yield and for the long term. Smaller gardens can allow for a radius of 2 metres.

Pruning for shorter shoots is carried out at the end of August or in February. For the first year after planting, a harvest cannot usually be expected. Usually this does not happen until the following year. However, it is worth waiting.

Observations and points of interest:
  • Disease-free, easy to adapt to and hardy
  • Unripe fruit is bitter. Once ripe, the intensity of aroma and flavour varies from variety to variety
  • Eating the fruit raw is most beneficial to health. However, they can be made into compotes, candied, sterilised, used to make jams, juices, tinctures and are also used to make fruit spirits
  • The height of edible large-fruited dogwoods, when healthy, is up to about 3 metres, exceptionally 4. By early spring pruning, they can be kept to 2 metres to 2.5 metres, depending on the species, without difficulty
  • A 10 year old plant can yield 20 kilograms, a 15 year old plant 40 kilograms or more
  • Trellises are most often characterised by upright growth and self-pollination, but the advantage is the additional plant
  • The older the plant is, the more it slows down its growth. Young plants can grow up to a metre on a branch after a good cut
  • The natural fertiliser recommended by growers before planting is manure in a deeper substrate, but it will also please the rooted plant when fertilised in spring
  • Leaf drying can be caused by a lack of potassium. This can be stopped with a suitable fertiliser. However, be careful not to over-fertilise

Origin of new varieties of dogwood from Poland and Ukraine

The European pioneers in dogwood breeding are the Poles and Ukrainians. In the Ukrainian National Botanical Garden of M.M. Gryshka in Kiev, a tasty variety with a small stone called Svetlyachok was developed. The Ukrainian varieties Starokijewska and the round-fruited Julius are also Ukrainian. Originalnyj with dark red fruits, also the lighter variety Olena stand out for their taste. They are surpassed by Elegantnyj, with fruit up to 9 grams, with an even more pronounced flavour and a shelf life of about a month after ripening. It grows to a height of about 2 metres. More oval than pear-shaped, the fruits of the Ukrainian variety Joy remain on the bush even after ripening. The 'Ekzotychnyj' variety has a sweet taste of dark red aromatic fruits with a shelf life of about 1 month.

The Polish variety 'Raciborski' has dark red fruits which are also suitable for making juices. However, it is known above all for having the highest iridoid content of the other varieties. The Paczoski variety is similar, with its characteristic bright red fruit weighing up to 6 grams. The fruit of the Polish variety Podolski is characterised by ripening in mid-September, but also by a rich harvest rich in vitamin C and polyphenols. The Kresowiak variety from the Bolestraszyce arboretum also impresses with its iridoid content, and the Dublany variety with similar characteristics comes from the same place. Bolestrazycki is the variety for which interesting origins and the most versatile uses are mentioned. The newest Polish variety is Marceli, with dark leaves and a high yield.

The dogwood is undemanding, but beware of the shallow root system

The dogwood is an extremely interesting tree with interesting fruits. Although it is considered undemanding and a healthy plant, it does not require any extra care, but it is a good idea to keep it well moist, especially during the summer. While some species are not susceptible to drought, there are others where it is advisable to take into account the possible reduced crop yields caused by the drier season. Ripening of the fruit requires the tree to be kept in a moist environment. It is therefore advisable not to allow the soil under the tree to dry out too much from the end of July onwards, for example if it is a solitary tree with direct access to the sun under the canopy. The shallow root system of the tree will appreciate it if the crown is in full sun while the trunk and roots are in shade. In an industrial setting, the more sensitive dogwood variety is irrigated, especially when young.

Too dry soil can affect the quality of the crop in a given year, but also the next year. The roots may also be affected by overheating in the sun. Therefore, the use of mulch bark, a combination of geotextiles or stone tread and mulch is a good measure. This can be a layer of grass cuttings, but also a layer of straw or hay. Mulch will also weaken weed growth. The most economical root protection solution solves three possible complications at once and makes the edible dogwood an interesting and potentially harvest-rich addition to your garden.