Dogwood vs. Cherry Blossom – How To Decide Which To Choose

Selecting the perfect tree for your outdoor space can be an exciting yet daunting task. With a multitude of choices, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the vast array of vibrant hues, varying forms, and distinctive characteristics.

Two flowering trees that are often considered are the dogwood and the cherry blossom. Both are beloved for their stunning floral displays and year-round appeal, but are they really that different, and how do you decide?

Are dogwoods and cherry blossoms the same? Dogwoods and cherry blossoms are not the same. Dogwoods belong to the genus Cornus, are smaller than cherry blossoms, have a broader hardiness range, and prefer dappled sunlight. Cherry blossoms belong to the genus Prunus, need full sun, tend to grow taller, and have a faster growth rate.

In the following sections, we will take a closer look at the dogwood and cherry blossom trees. We’ll compare their features, look at their unique characteristics, and discuss their growing requirements and care needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogwoods and cherry blossoms are different trees, each with unique features, growing requirements, and care needs.
  • Both trees are known for their stunning spring flowers, beautiful fall color, and year-round appeal.
  • Dogwoods are generally smaller and more shade tolerant. Cherry blossoms are larger and prefer full sun.
  • Cherry blossoms are slightly more demanding in their soil and light requirements.

You may be surprised to learn that there are many different types of dogwood trees, each offering unique features and pretty blooms. Be sure to read my article, Best Dogwood Varieties, to learn about the most popular options.

Dogwood vs. Cherry Blossom at a Glance

DogwoodCherry Blossom
Botanical NameCornus spp.Prunus spp.
Grow Zones3-95-8
Growth RateSlow to mediumMedium to fast
Average Size10-25 ft.15-30 ft.
Light RequirementsFull sun to partial shadeFull sun
Watering NeedsModerateModerate
LeavesOpposite, simple leavesAlternate, simple leaves
Key FeaturesFour-petaled flowers, red fall foliage, and colorful winter barkFive-petaled flowers, autumn color, and ornamental bark

Dogwood vs. Cherry Blossom – Features

Both dogwood and cherry blossom trees are renowned for their stunning flower displays and distinctive features, but each tree has unique characteristics that set it apart.

Tree Size and Shape

Dogwood trees typically grow to a height of 10-25 feet, making them a perfect fit for small to medium-sized landscapes.

They have a broad canopy with a rounded or umbrella-like shape, providing ample shade. The branches are arranged in a tiered fashion, adding to the tree’s visual appeal.

Cherry blossom trees are slightly larger, growing to an average height of 15-30 feet.

They have a vase-like shape with spreading branches that create a stunning canopy of flowers in the spring.

The shape and size of cherry blossom trees make them a striking focal point in any landscape.


Dogwood leaves are opposite, meaning they grow in pairs along the branches with one leaf directly across from the other.

They are simple leaves with an entire or slightly wavy margin. The leaves are 3-6 inches long and turn a brilliant red in the fall, adding to the tree’s year-round appeal.

Cherry blossom leaves, in contrast, are alternate, meaning they grow at intervals along the branch. They are also simple leaves but have a serrated or toothed margin.

The leaves are 2-5 inches long and turn yellow to orange-red in the fall, providing a beautiful autumn display.

Flowers & Ornamental Appeal

Dogwood trees are known for their four-petaled flowers that bloom in the spring.

However, what appears to be petals are actually bracts, modified leaves that surround the cluster of tiny, yellow true flowers.

The bracts can be white, pink, or red, depending on the species. In the fall, the tree produces red or orange berries, adding to its ornamental appeal.

White flowers on a Venus dogwood tree.

Cherry blossom trees, as their name suggests, are celebrated for their spectacular blossoms. The flowers are five-petaled and come in shades of white and pink.

They bloom in early spring, covering the tree in a cloud of color. The flowers are often followed by small, cherry-like fruits.

Cherry blossom tree covered in white flowers.


Dogwood tree bark adds year-round interest to the tree. As some varieties mature, such as Kousa, the bark exfoliates to reveal patches of gray, tan, and brown, providing winter interest.

Cherry blossom trees also have distinctive bark. It’s typically glossy and reddish-brown with prominent horizontal lenticels (pores).

The bark adds to the tree’s ornamental appeal, especially in the winter months when the leaves have fallen.

Growth Rate & Preferences

Dogwoods have a slow to medium growth rate, adding 1-2 feet per year. They are deciduous trees, meaning they shed their leaves in the fall.

Dogwoods are also known for their hardiness and can tolerate a variety of soil conditions, although they prefer well-drained, acidic soils.

Cherry blossoms have a medium to fast growth rate, adding more than 2 feet per year. They are also deciduous and are known for their hardiness.

Cherry blossoms prefer well-drained, loamy soils and are slightly more demanding in their soil and light requirements.

Fall Foliage

Dogwood leaves turn a vibrant red, creating a striking contrast with the surroundings.

Cherry blossom leaves turn yellow to orange-red, adding warmth and color to the autumn landscape.

The fall foliage of both trees adds to their year-round appeal and makes them a popular choice for many landscapes.

Dogwood vs. Cherry Blossom – Growing Requirements

While both dogwood and cherry blossom trees are relatively hardy, they have slightly different growing requirements.

Understanding these requirements can help ensure your tree thrives and provides years of beauty and enjoyment.

Light Preferences

Dogwood trees are quite versatile when it comes to light requirements. They can grow in full sun to partial shade, but they appreciate some afternoon shade in hotter climates.

Providing the right amount of light can help ensure healthy growth and abundant flowering.

Cherry blossom trees prefer full sun. They need at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day for best growth and flower production.

However, like dogwoods, they can benefit from some afternoon shade in hotter climates.

Soil Type and pH Requirements

Dogwoods are adaptable to a variety of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils, but they prefer well-drained, organically rich, acidic soils with a pH of 6.0-7.0.

Regular mulching can help maintain soil moisture and acidity.

Cherry blossoms prefer well-drained, loamy soils. They can tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH levels, but a neutral pH is ideal.

Like dogwoods, cherry blossoms appreciate mulching to conserve soil moisture and maintain soil health.

Cold Hardiness and Adaptability

Dogwoods are hardy trees that can tolerate cold winters. They are suitable for USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9, depending on the species.

Dogwoods are also adaptable to urban conditions, making them a popular choice for city landscapes.

Cherry blossoms are slightly less hardy than dogwoods. They are suitable for Hardiness Zones 5-8.

While they can adapt to urban conditions, they are less tolerant of pollution and compacted soil than dogwoods are.

Dogwood vs. Cherry Blossom – Maintenance & Care

While both dogwood and cherry blossom trees are relatively low maintenance, understanding their specific care needs can help ensure their health and longevity.

Watering Needs

Dogwood trees have moderate watering needs. While they can tolerate short periods of drought once established, they prefer consistently moist soil.

It’s important to water them deeply, especially during dry spells, to encourage deep root growth. However, avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot.

Cherry blossom trees also have moderate watering needs. They prefer consistent moisture and may require more frequent watering during dry periods.

Like dogwoods, cherry blossoms should be watered deeply to promote healthy root development. Overwatering should be avoided to prevent root diseases.


Dogwoods generally do not require heavy fertilization. An annual application of a slow-release, balanced fertilizer (like this one) can be beneficial, especially in poor soils.

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It’s best to fertilize in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Cherry blossoms, on the other hand, benefit from regular fertilization. A slow-release, balanced fertilizer applied in the early spring can help promote vigorous growth and abundant flowering.

If the tree is planted in rich, well-amended soil, additional fertilization may not be necessary.


Dogwood tree pruning is generally minimal and is mostly done to maintain shape and remove dead or diseased wood. The best time to prune is in late fall or winter when the tree is dormant.

However, spring-flowering dogwoods can also be pruned immediately after they finish blooming.

Cherry blossom trees also require minimal pruning, mainly to maintain their shape, remove dead wood, and allow light into the canopy.

Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth starts but after the threat of extreme cold has passed. Pruning after blooming prevents the loss of future flowers.

Pests and Diseases

Dogwood trees can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, including dogwood borer, powdery mildew, and leaf spot diseases.

Regular inspection, proper watering, and maintaining good air circulation can help prevent most issues.

Cherry blossom trees can also be affected by pests and diseases, including tent caterpillars, borers, leaf spot, and fungal diseases.

As with dogwoods, regular inspection and proper care can help keep these issues at bay.

Fall Cleanup

Fall cleanup is essential for both trees to prevent the overwintering of pests and diseases.

For dogwoods and cherry blossoms, this involves raking and disposing of fallen leaves and any diseased or infested plant material.

Dogwood vs. Cherry Blossom – Landscape Uses

Dogwood and cherry blossom trees, with their stunning floral displays and year-round appeal, make a beautiful addition to any landscape.

Dogwoods, with their smaller size and broad canopy, are perfect for small to medium-sized landscapes. They can be used as specimen trees, in mixed borders, or under taller trees in a woodland garden.

Cherry blossoms, with their larger size and spectacular spring display, make a striking focal point in any landscape. They are perfect as specimen trees, in borders, or along driveways.

Their stunning spring blossoms also make them a popular choice for public parks and gardens.

Popular Varieties

There are several popular varieties of both dogwood and cherry blossom trees.

Some popular dogwood varieties include the Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), and the Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).

Popular cherry blossom varieties include the Yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis), Kwanzan cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’), and the Weeping cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’).

Related Questions:

Is There a Difference Between a Dogwood and a Flowering Dogwood?

Yes, there is a difference. While all dogwoods produce flowers, the term “Flowering dogwood” specifically refers to Cornus florida, a species known for its showy spring flowers.

Is There a Difference Between Cherry Trees and Cherry Blossoms?

Yes, there is a difference. “Cherry Blossom” generally refers to ornamental cherry trees, known for their spectacular spring blossoms.

Cherry trees, on the other hand, are typically fruit-producing trees like the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) or sour cherry (Prunus cerasus).

Closing Thoughts

Choosing between a dogwood and a cherry blossom tree can be a delightful challenge. Both trees offer stunning floral displays, beautiful fall colors, and year-round interest.

By understanding their unique features, growing requirements, and care needs, you can choose the tree that best fits your landscape and lifestyle.

Whether you choose a dogwood or a cherry blossom, either tree will undoubtedly add beauty and value to your landscape.

Interesting in learning more about how dogwoods compare to other common landscape trees? Don’t miss reading these articles: