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How Can a Dogwood Bloom Pink and Bloom White?

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Can a dogwood that’s supposed to bloom pink actually bloom white?

So, can a pink dogwood end up blooming white too? We get that question a lot. And the answer is kind of complicated.

To start, are you absolutely certain you’re growing a pink dogwood cultivar?

If you aren’t 100% certain that your dogwood is a cultivated variety bred specifically to bloom pink, your tree may be a white one. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Even if the plant label said “pink dogwood”, you might have bought one that isn’t going to keep blooming true pink over time.

White dogwood flower

Did you know that dogwoods aren’t just trees. This is a ground cover dogwood.

If you don’t know what a cultivar is and why that matters in choosing plants like this, join our online Academy, and we’ll teach you all about cultivars.

Okay, if you know you have a pink dogwood, but it’s suddenly flowering white…

So there might be a few reasons this is happening to your tree. For instance:

  • If your tree was grafted and the white flowering part is growing from below the graft point, that’s probably the issue. That’s because the root stock below the graft point comes from a tree that flowers white instead of pink. And if it is blooming pink above the graft point, that’s because a pink dogwood was grafted to that white rootstock.
  • If your pink dogwood is a pink variety but not a pink cultivated variety, it may be reverting. That’s because the pink is probably a weaker genetic than the white. So, white wins.

And, if you’re wondering why your white blooms are turning pink…

As many white dogwood blooms age, the petals turn color. And often that means the white “flowers” start taking on hints of pink.

But here’s a cool fact about dogwood blooms: Those “petals” aren’t really flowers. Instead, they’re modified leaves.

And no matter what color your dogwood flowers were at the start, the reality is any dogwood bloom can change from white to pink to many other colors as they age. Sometimes they’ll even start looking burgundy or streaked with deeper colors over time.

17 comments on “How Can a Dogwood Bloom Pink and Bloom White?

  1. Barry Edwards on

    This year several dogwoods that normally bloom white bloomed pink. I asked some of the elderly people and they said there was an old saying that when this happened that cotton wouldn’t make well that year. I would love to hear why they started pink but are now white.

  2. Garden Mentors on

    That’s an interesting old timer statement. It may be that your plant has created a pink “sport” or a branching genetic anomaly. Or it could be that the blooms were white and faded to pink. Sometimes we notice them after they get tinted by their environment. We’ve read some articles indicating that a white dogwood can bloom pink if the soil pH isn’t right, but that sounds questionable. A pink dogwood should be a cultivar, or cultivated variety that should hold true to color no matter what happens in the soil. So, our guess (situation unseen) is that you have a grafted plant with both white and pink plants growing as one, and the pink bloomed. You might take this up with a local specialist who can see what’s really happening.

  3. robin carlson on

    my all white dogwood has many previous years as pink, bright pink, now this year the whole tree is white. not that it’s not pretty, but enjoyed the pink much more, is there anything I can do?

  4. Garden Mentors on

    Robin, thanks for writing in. As this article discusses, it may be a reversion issue. Site unseen, it’s tough to assess your individual situation. You may wish to bring in a local consultant to try to assess your tree. Good luck!

  5. William Bailey on

    Iv heard that there is a die that you can buy and mix and pour into the the root system and turn it from white to pink. Is that true.

  6. Denise Knight on

    William Bailey, while the Garden Mentor says, “adding a dye to the soil sounds like a nasty treatment to the tree an our planet” . . . I have a white dogwood that I purchased in the hopes it could possibly turn pink, like the one I covet a few blocks away. It has remained white for fifteen years, but in the last couple of years, is taking on more of a pink edge. Like hydrangeas, I have an idea: I will be adding several gallons of Beet Juice to the soil at the base, in hopes it goes into the tree and tweaks the color. Fun science with no serious consequences. So much for harming the tree and the planet!

  7. kathy Neel on

    I have a different issue, my all white dogwoods that look like snowdrifts in the spring are beginning to turn pinkish. I am worried that it indicates a problem with the plants. These are mature trees that survived the drought 5 years ago and the winter storm this February. They are about done, but I do not ever remember this happening before. I have noticed t on two trees the others show no signs of turning pink. do I need to be concerned?

  8. Garden Mentors on

    Kathy, it’s difficult to assess your issue site unseen. But, your comment that “they’re about done” does hint that the white may simply be fading to pink for the season. We’ve seen dogwoods that may change color one year and then not at all another year. Too, given the stresses your trees have been under, perhaps their environment has changed and this is an adaptation. As for whether you should be concerned or not, it’s hard to say. One option is to hire a certified arborist or other horticulture pro to come in and help you assess your specific challenge on site. Good luck.

  9. michael w callahan on

    purchased a white dogwood an and the flowers light green whats up with that ? is there anything that can be done with a fertilizer such as with turning hydrangea from white to pink or to blue /

  10. Garden Mentors on

    Michael, Sounds like you may be purchased a mis-labelled plant. Or, it could be a shade issue. The petals of dogwood flowers aren’t actually flower petals. Instead, they’re modified leaves. And, sometimes plants will green up as many leaves as possible to assist with photosynthesis under stress. If you need help assessing your plant in your garden, you might bring in a local gardening consultant for help. Good luck!

  11. Georgie on

    I inherited my pink established dogwood tree but this year there were very few flowers and moss in the the bark. is there anything that would cause this?

  12. Garden Mentors on

    Georgie, Is the bark peeling away and there’s moss growing below the bark? Or, is there just moss (and probably lichen) growing on the exterior of the bark. If the bark is peeling away, you may have a sick tree. But, if moss (and hopefully lichen) are growing on the exterior of the bark, this isn’t likely to be something of concern. And, it shouldn’t be affecting the flowering. However, flowering can be impacted by may environmental issues, age of the tree and more. Bringing in a horticultural consultant or arborist local to your area may get you more answers to your specific issue. Good luck.

  13. Audrey Williams on

    Audrey on May 19th 2023
    My all white dogwood is turning pink for the first time. Tree is healthy. I am delighted. Her closest mates are a variegated butterfly tree and a raspberry crepe myrtle planted that way on suggestion of my then 96 year old neighbor ?? took 13 years but loving it. Could be just conscience who knows me ?

  14. Garden Mentors on

    Audrey,
    Thanks for sharing. It isn’t likely that adding new trees has changed your dogwood’s color. But that combination of plants sure sounds lovely. Enjoy!

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