Dogwood Flower: Meaning, Symbolism, Colors & Care

The rich plant life enchants us with its beauty every day.

However, behind their stunning appearance and numerous valuable properties, plants also have a powerful symbolism.

Each flower implies specific meanings that determine to whom it should be given and on what occasions.

Dogwood Flowers are also called blossoming dogwoods.

In addition to their enchanting beauty, they are also famous for their blooming in early spring, which is where their symbolism comes from.

Dogwood blooms before other trees and, as such, heralds the end of the long winter and the beginning of the long-awaited spring.

The variety of shades in which the dogwood flower appears, from pure white, through gentle pink to powerful and bright red, further influences the symbolism attributed to this flower.

The dogwood flower has various meanings in different cultures but is equally respected and adored everywhere.

While for some, it is a symbol of rebirth and faith in a new life; it is a symbol of purity and innocence for others.

In addition, this flower is associated with endurance and incredible willpower in some parts of the world.

Dogwood flower is significant for Christians because it is associated with hope and God’s infinite love.

This flower also has an important place in popular culture, where it is also often used as a symbol of innocence, beauty, and a new beginning.

These flowers can be easily grown in various parts of the world and do not require complicated conditions and much care.

It has moderate water requirements, likes sun, and likes well-draining soil.

In the following text, discover more about the meanings attributed to the dogwood flower in different cultures, its strong symbolism, the colors in which it appears, and the care it needs.

Origin of the Dogwood Flower 

Dogwood trees were cultivated for the first time in the 18th century, in 1731.

Today it is one of the favorite trees used in landscape architecture.

Although the tree is magnificent, it is a favorite because of its beautiful white, pink, or red flowers.

The origin of dogwood is related to North America but also Europe and Asia.

Dogwood belongs to the genus Cornus, i.e., Cornus florida.

This plant is also known by other names such as Florida dogwood, American dogwood, Indian arrowwood, Cornelian tree, white dogwood, white cornel, false boxwood, and false box.

Legends of the Dogwood Flower 

Several legends associated with the dogwood flower speak of its importance and the vital place it occupies in different cultures.

According to one Native American legend, the flowering dogwood was created when the gods cursed a greedy chieftain and turned him into a tree.

The chief had four daughters and persistently rejected their suitors, demanding expensive and valuable gifts.

When the gods got angry and turned him into a tree with low branches, it blossomed, and each of the four petals on the flower represented one of his daughters.

The Native Americans have another story related to this beautiful and mystical flower.

The young Cherokee princess was famous for her beauty and innocence.

When she refused the courtship of a young man, he killed her in a fit of rage and jealousy.

While she was dying, she covered her wounds with dogwood flowers.

According to this legend, the tips of the white petals of the dogwood flower have red spots because of this, and some flowers are pink or red.

This flower is sometimes used as a symbol of steadfastness that adorned the beautiful princess.

Also, because of this story, blossomed dogwood is sometimes called a Cherokee princess or Cherokee.

The dogwood flower has an important place in Christianity as well.

According to one story, the dogwood grew as tall and straight as other trees in old times.

Then, however, the dogwood was used for the crucifixion of Jesus.

According to the story, God then decided that the dogwood tree would never again grow tall enough to be used to make a cross for crucifixion.

Nevertheless, as a sign of his infinite love, God also blessed the tree, giving it beautiful flowers.

Since then, the dogwood flower has had petals that form the shape of a cross, and on the white petals, there are small red marks that resemble rusty nails.

Although this story has no basis in reality, as it is unlikely that dogwood grew in Israel at all, it is happily retold among Christians.

The story probably originates from the beginning of the 20th century.

According to it, in Christianity, the dogwood flower is often considered a symbol of hope, rebirth, and God’s boundless love.

Dogwood Flower – Etymological Meaning 

It is assumed that the name dogwood originated from the tree’s fruit. People called this fruit dogberry, which meant that it was not good enough, cheap, i.e., “suitable for a dog.”

According to another interpretation, “dogwood” was originally “dagwood.” “Dag” comes from “dagger,” meaning “to pierce or stab,” so this is a tree used for stabbing tools.

The scientific name Cornus florida comes from the Latin language. It is derived from the words cornu, meaning horn, and flos, meaning flower.

The horn refers to the excellent hardness of the tree, and the flower to the beautiful blossoms of the flowering dogwood.

The Symbolism of the Dogwood Flower 

In different cultures, the dogwood flower has different meanings and symbolism.

All over the world, this flower is associated with hope and rebirth, mainly because it blooms in early spring and awakens sleeping nature after a cold and long winter.

Also, many of the meanings attributed to this flower come from its beauty and the gentle but strong impression that this flower leaves.

The basic symbols associated with the dogwood flower are:

  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Rebirth
  • Fidelity
  • Love
  • Tenderness
  • Purity
  • Determination
  • Health
  • Good luck

Meaning of Dogwood Flower in New England 

In these areas, people believe that the dogwood flower brings good luck, especially in married life.

To ensure a harmonious married life, people in these regions traditionally use the dogwood flower in the wedding ceremony.

They believe this flower will bring faithfulness to newlyweds and strengthen their love.

The dogwood flower is also a popular amulet in this part of the world.

According to some beliefs, the dogwood flower will protect the one who wears it and make all obstacles disappear from the path to achieving their goals.

Meaning of Dogwood Flower in Japan 

Dogwood and the dogwood flower are loved in Japanese culture.

When in the early 20th century, the Japanese sent cherry tree seedlings to the US as a sign of friendship between the two nations, the Americans reciprocated by sending flowering dogwood seedlings to Japan.

As a result, dogwoods now beautify many parks and cityscapes across Japan.

Since it blooms in April, before other trees, the dogwood flower symbolizes hope and a new beginning for the Japanese.

Meaning of Dogwood Flower in China 

Since ancient times, the Chinese have believed in the magical properties of dogwood and its flower.

For the Chinese, this flower is a symbol of health and general well-being.

During China’s Double Ninth Festival, also called the Chongyang Festival, various traditions are practiced, including wearing the dogwood flower.

Women put this flower in their hair, and men hang it on their belts, hoping to ward off diseases and disasters.

Please make no mistake; this is a flower from the Cornus officinalis tree, somewhat different from its relative Cornus florida.

These flowers are usually yellow, and the trees also have a fruit used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Meaning of the Dogwood Flower in Victorian England 

In the Victorian era, when social norms were very rigid, people often conveyed messages through the language of flowers.

Like many other flowers, the dogwood flower had its role in these subtle “conversations.”

At that time, when a young man fell in love, he would give the girl a branch with a dogwood flower if he was not sure of her feelings.

If the girl returned the flower to him, it was a bad sign for him because it meant rejection.

However, if the girl had the same tender feelings for the young man, she would keep the flower as an encouragement to continue courting her.

The symbols of reliability and patience associated with the dogwood flower originate from this time.

Today, the language of flowers is no longer widely known, so few people understand it, but even nowadays, you can give someone a dogwood flower as a message that you will wait for them.

The Meaning of the Dogwood Flower in Art and Popular Culture 

The dogwood flower has its place in high art and popular culture. It appears in literature, painting, tattoos, and greeting cards for Valentine’s Day.

One of the most famous examples of the mention of the dogwood flower in literature is Lewis Carroll’s novel “Alice in Wonderland.”

The dogwood flower is usually seen in this book as a symbol of Alice’s innocence, beauty, and a childlike naivety.

However, some believe that Lewis Carroll chose this flower to emphasize the magical atmosphere of his book, linking to the mystical legends of the dogwood flower.

One of the most famous Scottish poets, Robert Burns, also mentions the dogwood flower in his poems, and the Scots believe that in the area where he lived, you can still find the dogwood trees he planted.

The dogwood flower is a common motif in the paintings of landscape painters around the world, especially those originally from North America.

However, this flower mostly appears in the artist’s paintings regarding awakened nature.

One of the most famous paintings in which the blossoming dogwood tree appears is “View on Mount Etna” by Abraham Louis Breguet.

The famous Japanese contemporary sculptor Sugiura Yasuyoshi is renowned for his sculptures representing flowers.

One of them shows the dogwood flower, celebrating the beauty of nature and its wonders.

Like many other flowers, the dogwood flower is a common tattoo motif. It is used as a symbol of strength, endurance, rebirth, and faith.

Color Meanings of the Dogwood Flower 

The language of flowers is complex, and the meanings change depending on the color of the flower.

Therefore, as with other flowers, dogwood flowers have different meanings depending on their color.

The dogwood flower appears in three colors – white, pink, and red.

White Dogwood Flower – Meaning 

In most cultures, the color white is associated with purity and innocence.

Accordingly, white dogwood flowers are often used as a symbol of pure, uncorrupted love or one’s untouchability.

These are very suitable flowers for weddings because, besides being white, they emphasize sincere love and the desire to keep the emotions between the newlyweds pure and strong.

The color white is often used as a symbol of spirituality, so white dogwood flowers sometimes signify faith and hope.

It is predominantly expressed in the Christian tradition because the dogwood blooms around Easter when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the idea of rebirth.

Because of the red dots on the white petals, the white dogwood flower is especially significant for Christian believers, as they believe that these dots symbolize the blood of Jesus.

Pink Dogwood Flower – Meaning 

The color pink has several different meanings.

While on the one hand, it is strongly associated with tenderness and femininity, on the other hand, it can also be a symbol of friendship, especially in the language of flowers.

Accordingly, a pink dogwood flower can be a gift that shows affection for a female person, a sign of attraction and sympathy.

You can give a woman a pink dogwood flower if she is highly feminine and attractive.

On the other hand, it is also a flower suitable for a young girl, symbolizing her youth and tenderness.

Since this color signifies friendly feelings, the pink dogwood flower is also a way to show someone that you appreciate them as a person and that your friendship means something to you.

Red Dogwood Flower – Meaning 

Red is traditionally a symbol of strong emotions, love, and passion.

The red dogwood flower is the perfect way to express your love.

You can give it to a girl whose heart you are trying to win or to a woman with whom you have been sharing your life for a long time, for example, for a wedding anniversary or Valentine’s Day.

The color red is also associated with good luck in some cultures, so this is an excellent way to wish someone good luck.

Also, the color red is associated with power and unusual strength of personality.

So if you admire someone’s strong character, you can give that person a red dogwood flower.

On What Occasions to Give a Dogwood Flower? 

Although the dogwood flower is not a common gift in floral arrangements or bouquets, its powerful symbolism makes it the perfect gift for many occasions.

Considering this flower’s extraordinary importance in Christianity, many Christian holidays and events are excellent opportunities to give someone a dogwood flower.

In the first place, there is Easter because the dogwood blooms at this time, and the legend connects it with the resurrection of Jesus.

Also, the dogwood flower (primarily white) is an excellent gift for baptism because it symbolizes innocence, purity, and spirituality.

Dogwood flower (especially red) is a beautiful and unique gift for the person you love.

You can give it as a gift for an anniversary, birthday, or some other significant date and thus express your deep emotions.

Considering the symbolism of rebirth, the dogwood flower is an appropriate gift for someone going through a crisis or a difficult time.

With this gift, you will wish that person to leave everything bad in the past and start a new and better chapter in their life.

Dogwood flower is also a way to wish someone a good health and good luck, so you can give it as a gift on various occasions when you want to convey this message.

Planting and Care of Flowering Dogwoods 

Flowering dogwoods thrive in a variety of areas and numerous climate zones.

They are simple to grow, and if the conditions suit them, they quickly become independent and don’t require much care.

Planting of Flowering Dogwoods

There are several ways to grow a dogwood tree, but not all will produce results equally quickly.

  1. You can plant a tree from seeds – in late winter or early spring, when the seeds are ripe, plant them in the yard and water them regularly. Remember that it can take a while for the tree to grow and that you may wait up to ten years before flowering.
  2. You can plant a young tree – buy a seedling in the spring, then plant it, water it regularly, and fertilize it once or twice a year.
  3. You can transplant the tree – in this case, the most important thing is that the plant is well established on the new land. Again, water it, but don’t overwater it during flowering.

Remember that dogwood likes to be surrounded and protected by other trees, so choose its place in your garden carefully.

During warm days and long periods without rain, ensure that your dogwood has enough water.

Dogwood can be grown both in the sun and in the shade, and the most important thing is to provide it with well-draining, slightly acidic soil.

When your dogwood blooms in early spring, its beautiful flowers will last for two to four weeks.

It may seem like this isn’t a particularly long period, but dogwood is also beautiful during the rest of the year.

In spring and summer, it will leaf out with rich leaves; in winter, colorful red berries will appear on the tree.

Care of Dogwood Flowers

If you want to enjoy the beauty of dogwood flowers inside your home and not just in the garden, bring a few sprigs into the house in the spring.

It might even help the flowers appear earlier, but you must ensure you’ve done everything right.

To start, choose the branches with the thickest flower buds.

Then, cut them with a sharp knife or scissors so that the cut is flush with the adjacent branch.

Make a small slit in the bottom of each stem and spread it out to prevent the resin from clogging the cut end.

It’s important so that water can reach each branch.

Remove the bottom buds and place the branches in a deep bowl of lukewarm water, ensuring that any remaining buds remain above the water line.

After a few hours, move the branches to a vase of lukewarm water.

To begin with, keep the branches in a cooler room with dimmed light and change the water every day until you notice the buds starting to color.

Then you can take them out to a warmer room with a stronger light, but away from direct sunlight.

All that remains is for you to enjoy the enchanting beauty of dogwood flowers in your home.

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