4 Best Fertilizers For Dogwood Trees, Shrubs | How And When To Use

With around 60 different species of Dogwood or Cornels as it is also referred to, there really is a tree or a shrub to account for all tastes, soil type, and space available to you. But much more than that, the ever-changing nature of Dogwood has the capability of bringing interest to your landscape throughout every season of the year.

Dogwood, from the genus Cornus, comes in many shapes and sizes from large trees to low-creeping bushes. Depending on what you prefer, the flowering varieties can bloom in the prettiest of white, pink, or red either in late spring, summer, and even winter. Others are grown for their spectacular foliage or berries. Almost all bring drama to a winter garden when branches turn to vivid red.

Choosing The Best Dogwood Tree Fertilizer

One thing that all varieties of Dogwood have in common, whether you have a tree or a shrub is their preference for well-prepared soil at the time of planting and a regular dose of nutrients as they mature.

So, just as you have taken time to select a Dogwood that suits your landscape, so too must you equip your garden shed with one of the best fertilizers for dogwood shrubs and trees to ensure your specimen continues to look its absolute best as it changes throughout each of the seasons of the year.

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Granular Vs Liquid Feeds

Choosing what sort of fertilizer to buy very much depends on your personal preference, how much time you have, how old your Dogwood is, and whether it’s healthy or needs some TLC.

You’ll need to refer to the specifics of the manufacturer’s instructions, but typically granular feeds will either need to be sprinkled directly around the base of your Dogwood and then watered in or diluted in water before application. The formula gets dispersed into the soil and is gradually absorbed by the roots of your trees or shrubs.

This type of fertilizer is the most economical, but they do carry a risk of root burn if overused so always check quantities versus the area of ground you need to cover before fertilizing your Dogwood.

Granules offer a slow-release option, where results will begin to show within just a couple of weeks. A granular formula will provide nourishment to the soil around your trees or shrubs as well as the root system with results often being visible for up to nine months.

Liquid fertilizers get to work almost immediately by releasing nutrients into the soil that can then be quickly absorbed into the root system of your Dogwood. I tend to use liquid feeds where trees and shrubs are in poor health and need a quick fix.

Liquid Concentrate Or Spray

Liquid fertilizers can come in either a concentrated formula that will need diluting with water or will be ready to use straight from the bottle and have already been pre-mixed.

Similar to some granular feeds, it is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfertilizing with a too-heavily concentrated formula as this can often lead to root burn.

Depending on the area being treated, liquid formulas can be decanted into a handheld or backpack sprayer or used straight from the container it comes in. Many popular brands now come with fancy nozzles and attachments making feeding a far less messy business.

Liquid fertilizers do tend to be more expensive and often don’t have as much coverage as granules.

Fertilizer Granules Or Powder

Almost all fertilizer granules will need to be diluted in water before applying to the area you wish to cover. A good stir or shake of the container you are using to administer the feed from will usually be enough to dissolve granules. The granule option,  however, does carry the risk of any undissolved granules getting stuck in sprayer nozzles but can often be flushed out with water without too much trouble.

Some granule and powder formulas can be sprinkled directly onto the area you need to cover. This can be done by hand or with a spreader depending on the size of your plot. Powders – where dilution is required – tend to dissolve much more effectively. Again, read the instructions to ensure you get the quantities right.

These types of formulas will need to be watered in to become activated.

Tree Fertilizer Spikes

If you’ve read some of my other fertilizer articles, you’ll know that I am a big fan of fertilizer spikes. They offer a relatively mess-free and easy method of fertilizing. They come pre-measured and simply need pushing or hammering into the ground around your trees or shrubs. Once they have been watered in they continue to offer a slow release of nutrients between 6 to 9 months.

Fertilizer spikes are in the higher price bracket especially if you have a number of Dogwood trees or shrubs that need feeding. This is because you’ll need several spikes to span the area of ground you need to cover.

Dogwood Tree And Shrub Fertilizer N-P-K

N-P-K is the acronym used to describe the macronutrient makeup of a fertilizer. Each letter is an abbreviation of a particular macronutrient, where N stands for Nitrogen, P for Phosphorus, and K for Potassium.

Nearly all fertilizer packaging will state the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium contained in that particular formula. For example, where the N-P-K is 10-10-10, the formula will contain 10% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphorus, and 10% Potassium.

These macronutrients are vitally important to the health, growth, and longevity of plant life but their importance varies from one species of plant to another.

(N) Nitrogen is used by plants to produce foliage and leafy growth. Typically, deciduous plant life benefits from higher levels of nitrogen at the start or during the growing season.

(P) Phosphorus is needed to encourage healthy root development but also the production of fruits and seeds.

(K) Potassium is primarily used in the production of flowers and fruits, so great for flowering varieties of Dogwood such as Cornus florida and Cornus Aurora.

Dogwood Tree Fertilizer Reviews

In my search for the best fertilizers for Dogwood shrubs and trees, I’ve provided options that cater to all species of this well-loved landscape filler favorite. I’ve also highlighted the quality of the fertilizer compounds, their overall performance, the opinions of experts and consumers, as well as how easy each product is to use.

Read on to find the right product for your Dogwood!

1. Espoma Holly Tone Fertilizer 4-3-3

Best Fertilizers For Dogwood trees


  • Fast-acting results
  • Organic ingredients
  • Great value for money


  • May not be suitable for flowering varieties of Dogwood

This first pick in my best fertilizers for Dogwood list is an organic choice from a popular and well-known brand, Espoma. The Holly Tone fertilizer has an N-P-K of 4-3-3 and is a great option for non-flowering varieties of Dogwood.

As is the case with most Espoma fertilizers, this slow-release fertilizer contains their patented Bio-tone formula where microbes are released into the soil meaning your plant will continue to receive nutrients throughout the season.

The generously sized 18-pound bag contains all-natural products which are perfect for organic-matter-loving Dogwood. I found this to be a good value-for-money option too since I was able to use this for other ornamentals such as hydrangeas too.  Click here for Espoma Holly Tone Fertilizer’s latest price.

How to use: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fertilizer into 3 inches of soil along the dripline of your Dogwood. This is a fast-acting fertilizer so don’t exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations on quantities as this can cause root burn.

Customer Reviews: Consumers who use Holly Tone fertilizer have noticed how much healthier their Dogwood grew even within a short period of time.

2. Jobe’s Tree & Shrub Fertilizer Spikes 16-4-4

Jobe's Tree & Shrub Fertilizer Spikes


  • Fast-acting results
  • Organic ingredients
  • Great value for money


  • Keep Dry once opened

Next up is a slow-release fertilizer spike from Jobe’s. These are so easy to use. Simply insert them in the ground where needed and cover them with soil.

Set them to work in early spring, and the spikes will last all the way to the end of the growing season.

These are specifically designed for a number of deciduous trees and shrubs and work by continuing to release nutrients directly into the soil and near the roots over time. This makes them ideal for light-feeding Dogwood, especially the non-flowering variety. Expect to see gorgeous leafy foliage throughout the summer and vibrantly colored stems as the season progresses.  

Spikes are a great way of eliminating any waste or having to mess about with measuring and diluting which means you’ll be saving money and time.    

I’ve been a fan of Jobe’s fertilizers for some time and I just can’t get enough of their fertilizer spike range. In addition to these tree and shrub spikes, they also sell spikes specifically for citrus fruit and evergreen trees. Check out the latest price for Jobe’s Tree & Shrub Fertilizer Spikes on Amazon.com.

How to use: Water the soil thoroughly before application. Place the appropriate number of spikes along the tree’s drip line, (for every two inches of trunk diameter, use two spikes). For shrubs, use one stick for every 3 feet of height.

Jobes Tree and Shrub Spikes, Packet and Equipment
Jobes Tree and Shrub Spikes, Packet and Equipment
Jobes Tree and Shrub spike spacing guide
Jobes Tree and Shrub spike spacing guide
Positioning Jobes Tree and Shrub Spike Ready for Hammering Into Ground
Jobes Tree and Shrub Spike Being Hammered Into The Ground

Customer Reviews: This product continues to impress with just how easy and mess-free they are to apply. Some consumers did say they thought they were expensive especially if you have a group of mature trees or shrubs that need fertilizing since you’ll need spikes depending on the size of the trunk. Picking up an average user score of 4.6/5.

3. Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer 4-3-6

Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer

The Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer is an excellent choice for all flowering as well and non-flowering varieties of Dogwood. It boasts 2.5% humic acids in its list of ingredients so choose this if you find that you need to increase acid levels in your soil because

Some of the other compounds found in this fertilizer include bat guano, feather meal, and blood meal. This all-natural line-up means that you can expect to boost the organic matter in your soil, which is exactly what Dogwood loves. Click here for Down To Earth Acid Mix.

The Down to Earth company is a favorite of mine in terms of the overall quality, honesty, and natural approach to tree fertilization. This acid mix can be used as a strawberry and blueberry plant fertilizer too but their range also extends to fertilizer products for vegetable gardening as well as citrus trees to name but a few.

How To Use It: Apply at a rate of 3lb for every 100 linear feet. So a 30-foot strip of plants will require 1lb of fertilizer. Mix into the top 3 inches of soil.


  • A great choice for grounds that lack the right pH level for Dogwood growing
  • Fully natural, organic ingredients
  • Works especially well with strawberry and other types of berry growing


  • Can make the soil too acidic if too much is used, be sure to check soil pH with a test kit
  • It’s totally organic so can be a touch smelly only use it outdoors

4. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Acid-Loving Plant Food

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Acid-Loving Plant Food

My next choice in my best fertilizers for Dogwood shrubs and trees is a fast-acting granular feed that gets to work instantly on all acid-loving plants including Dogwood.

This is a water-soluble fertilizer so best used on mature Dogwood, especially the flowering variety. It contains added iron that can sometimes be deficient in Dogwood planted soil and will help improve acidity as well as provide nutrients. Click here for Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Acid-Loving Plant Food.

I’ve been using this Miracle-Gro Acid-loving plant food as a fertilizer for hydrangeas for a few years now and never tire of enjoying the huge blooms and luscious foliage it provides for them.

It certainly didn’t disappoint when I used it on my Cornus Florida Rubra. The perfectly pink blooms were even more vibrant than I can ever remember.  

How to use: Mix 1 tablespoon of the fertilizer granules with one gallon of water. This can be used for ailing Dogwood that needs a healthy boost or to encourage more blooms.


  • Brings lackluster blooms back to life after application
  • A proven track record of delivering results


  • Small packet for a premium price, but super-effective

How To Fertilize Dogwood Shrubs Step-By-Step

Neither Dogwood trees nor shrubs are heavy feeders but that’s not to say they don’t need a boost of nutrients to encourage a healthy root system and new growth from time to time.

I always wait at least one season before commencing a fertilizer program for newly planted Dogwood. This gives them a chance to get established and, in any case, the nutrients in the soil will be enough to feed them at this tender stage in their growth.

A slow-release fertilizer gently worked into the soil at the start of the growing season is best. It should be administered in the right quantities at the base of the tree or shrub and up to the drip line.

Always follow the instructions in terms of diluting ratios and amounts needed for the size of your Dogwood. It’s really important to get this right to avoid overfeeding and also activating the active ingredients within the fertilizer as misjudging or administering incorrectly can lead to either damaging or killing your Dogwood.

In addition to fertilizing annually, I always add a layer of mulch all around my Dogwood. This can be done in the Fall in place of any additional doses of fertilizer. In fact, fertilizing your Dogwood in the Fall can stimulate new growth that will only fall foul of winter frosts and cause more harm than good to your plant.

Dogwood Tree Soil pH

When it comes to soil Ph, Dogwood tends to be a little choosy as they prefer acidic, bordering on alkaline soil within a pH range of 5.0 to 7.0.

Testing the pH of your soil before planting is a good idea and can be done quickly and easily with a simple soil test kit.

Adjusting soil pH is straightforward enough but may take a little time to make any difference to the composition of the soil. I recommend lime or wood ash to increase alkaline levels (raise the soil pH). Lime is most readily available and can be bought in powder, liquid, or pellet form with pellets taking longer to break down and become effective.  

Lowering soil pH (making the soil more acidic) can be achieved by adding a layer of mulch (rotting leaves) and adding compost to your soil to ensure it is rich in organic matter. There are several fertilizer products in the market that are loaded with micro as well as those all-important macronutrients to give your soil a boost too.  

Soil that is naturally acidic tends to be more prone to deficient levels of calcium, magnesium, and/or potassium.  

Over Fertilizing Dogwood Trees & Shrubs

Dogwood trees and shrubs are prone to overfertilizing especially when young and newly planted therefore it is best to avoid fertilizing for the first season after planting.

Once your Dogwood has matured use a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season. This will provide sufficient nutrients through the active growing months.

Too much fertilizer at the end of the growing season may well encourage new growth however, this will only become damaged during the winter months and may hinder growth in the following year.

Achieving Better Dogwood Blooms

There are a number of things you can do to encourage your Dogwood to bloom gloriously in order to reach its full potential. After all, it’s probably one of the primary reasons you chose that particular variety of Dogwood in the first place.

Making a few tweaks here and there won’t necessarily take up huge amounts of your time or cost you a fortune. Here are my hints and tips on making sure you are achieving better dogwood blooms year after year.

Finding the right place to plant your Dogwood will make the difference between it blooming successfully and you leaving feeling short-changed. Dogwood is naturally found growing on the edge of forests. This means it spends part of the day in the sun and the other in the shade.

Too much or too little shade will significantly impact your Dogwood’s ability to bloom.  It needs to be planted in a spot where it gets just enough, but not too much light and shade each day.

You also need to make sure that your Dogwood receives enough water. Unfortunately, not all Dogwood is suited to every climate, and some are more drought-tolerant than others. In the main, Dogwood prefers slightly moist soil. If you live in an area that is prone to drought, make sure you have the time to supplement any additional watering needs.

If you find that your Dogwood isn’t flowering as much as it used to I recommend that you consider opting for a balanced fertilizer or one that contains slightly higher amounts of phosphorus and potassium compared to nitrogen. Whilst nitrogen is important to all plants, too much can prevent Dogwood from blooming. Phosphorous and potassium, on the other hand, will encourage healthy root growth and the production of flowers.

When To Fertilize Dogwood Trees & Shrubs

I always fertilize my Dogwood in the spring at the beginning of the growing season and after the last of the frost. I use a slow-release fertilizer that will lessen the risk of root burn and will continue to release nutrients into the soil for a good 6 to 9 months.

I tend not to fertilize at any other time of year unless I have a plant that isn’t performing or looks to be in need of some additional care and attention as this can lead to over-fertilization in Dogwood.

Also, I find that fertilizing at the end of the growing season and into Fall can stimulate new growth that can later become damaged by cold weather in winter. This can hinder growth for the following growing season.

How Often To Apply

Dogwood is not particularly a heavy feeder and will not benefit from being fed too often. An annual boost of slow-release nutrients in Spring should be sufficient to keep your Dogwood happy and healthy throughout the year.

Verdict: Best Dogwood Tree Fertilizers

All of my suggestions have been thoroughly road-tested and are known for their effectiveness in feeding Dogwood. It’s down to you now to decide which one suits your needs and your variety of Dogwood best.

The main difference between my first and second choice comes down to how you administer it. Espoma Holly Tone is a high-quality product that just a little goes a long way. This fertilizer will not only feed your Dogwood but also a range of flowering and non-flowering ornamentals in your garden.

Alternatively, like me, do you prefer the fit-and-forget option that is Jobe’s Tree & Shrub Fertilizer Spikes? These are pre-measured and simply need to be pushed or hammered into the area around your Dogwood and offer slow-release nutrients throughout the growing season.

Or, for those of you who need to correct the acidity in your soil, will you choose Down To Earth Acid Mix? A great organic option if that is jam-packed with goodness to boost the nutrients in your soil. Just what Dogwood love!