En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - February 21, 2011

From: Mohegan Lake, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Flowering Dogwood for NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Hello - can you advise me on a disease-resistant/hardy dogwood? Every nursery I've visited has discouraged me from planting dogwoods. What would you recommend? I live in Westchester County, NY


Our Native Plant Database tells us that there are ten different dogwoods that are native to New York, but I am assuming that you are referring to Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood).  It is described in our database as "one of the most beautiful eastern North American trees with showy early spring flowers, red fruit, and scarlet autumn foliage".

It is a shame that the nurseries in your area are discouraging you from planting one, as your location is well within its native range as you can see on this map published by the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  It is hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9. Their warnings are likely as a result of a lot of publicity about the many trees in the wild that have died due to anthracnose blight.  The disease is a problem under cool, moist weather conditions, made worse by poor air circulation, as is typical in their native forest habitat. Dogwoods which are planted in more open, sunny conditions are much less prone to the problem.

That being said, they do require evenly moist, acid, well drained soil and partial shade and will not thrive in a full sun, drought prone, compacted suburban lawn.

You will find more information about the plant, its cultural requirements and some information about improved cultivars in this USDA Plant Guide. We also encourage you to contact your local agricultural extension office for advice regarding selecting and planting your tree.

If you can provide a hospitable site for a dogwood, we encourage you to do so.  Many nurseries and garden designers will recommend you plant a (non-native) Kousa dogwood instead, as it will not be as susceptible to disease.  Researchers now suspect that the fungus was actually introduced to this country with the Kousa dogwood.  However, we discourage you from doing so as our indigenous dogwood (with such a wide native range) is an important food source for migrating songbirds.  The berry of the Kousa dogwood is too large for most of our native songbirds to swallow, making it an inappropriate alternative to our natives.

We also recommend you consider the following alternatives:

Cornus alternifolia (Alternateleaf dogwood) (Images)

Amelanchier arborea (Common serviceberry)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)

Cornus florida

Cornus florida

Amelanchier arborea

Amelanchier arborea

Magnolia virginiana

Magnolia virginiana




More Trees Questions

What is meant when Mimosa Tree is described as an invasive tree in San Antonio TX?
May 14, 2013 - When it is stated that the Mimosa Tree is invasive, does that mean that the Roots are invasive or does it mean that the seed pods will drop and make many more trees ?
view the full question and answer

Desert Willow Roots from Lubbock, TX
September 18, 2014 - I have a very, very happy Desert Willow that has grown larger than we expected and is probably too close to the house. Do I need to worry about a cracked foundation or pipe problems? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

How to care for newly transplanted Live Oak.
July 02, 2009 - I planted 3 B & B, 6" caliper live oaks in February and they lost most of their leaves during the normal time but when the new leaves grew back the amount of leaves were quite a bit less. I have th...
view the full question and answer

Trees poisonous to horses from Landrum SC
April 15, 2012 - Please tell me if the following trees are poisonous to horses: hickory, beech, poplar, and redbud. Thank you very much.
view the full question and answer

Care of Live Oaks
July 11, 2012 - We have Two Young Live Oaks in the front of Our home. We had them treated for insects, ect. Now what can we do to make them Full Green and Happy Happy Happy again.Thank You
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center