How to Grow a Dogwood Tree from Seeds

What You'll Need
Dogwood seeds
Sharp file
Plastic ziploc bags
Peat moss
Seed mix
Compost soil

The beautiful dogwood trees is native to the United States and parts of Asia. The distinctly intricate pink or white flowers are appreciated around the world. Before planting dogwood seeds, read these instructions to make sure your seeds develop into the beautiful flowering tree.

Step 1 - Collecting Dogwood Seeds

Collect seeds from the dogwood tree in the fall, before the first frost. The seeds will soften as they ripen and turn a brighter red. They are ripe when the seed pulp is soft to the touch and the seeds easily come off the branches.

Remove each from the red pulp that surrounds it. Soak in cool water for 24 hours to help further soften the pulp and make seed removal easier. Grab several seeds in your hands while under water and rub to push away pulp. The good seeds will sink to the bottom. Any bad seeds and pulp will float to the top. Remove seeds from the water and dry.

Step 2 - Wintering Dogwood Seeds

Although some seeds will germinate if planted in the fall, you may want to keep them over winter and plant in the spring. Try both methods first, then choose the one that works best for you. Before planting in the fall, nick each seed coat with a file. For the rest of the seeds, store in a perforated plastic bag of moist peat moss (½ peat moss, ½ seeds) at room temperature.

About 3 months before the last frost in your area, move the bag into the refrigerator and keep about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can store in a plastic bag with a silica gel tablet inside a sealed jar in the refrigerator. 

Step 3 - Germinating Dogwood Seeds

Around 3 months after placing in the fridge, seeds should begin to germinate. Plant in seed trays about ¼-inch deep in a well-draining seed mix. You can make your own by mixing:

  • 3 parts river sand
  • 1 part pine bark, peat moss or vermiculite

Water immediately, then wait for soil to dry out before watering again. Seedlings should appear within a couple weeks.

Step 4 - Transplanting Dogwood Seedlings

If the outdoor soil temperature is above 59 degrees F, you may plant outdoors in a place that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. If its not quite warm enough, plant in a small (about 4 inch) container and keep indoors until the temperature warms. Water seedlings weekly if there is little rainfall.

Apply 10-10-10 fertilizer to soil before planting, about one teaspoon per square foot. Mulch around the seedlings with pine bark, straw or compost to help keep soil moist.

By the first or second winter, your dogwood will be ready to move into its permanent location.