Blackwelder column: Maybe it’s not a dogwood — it could be viburnum

  • Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 12:51 a.m.
Viburnum blooms are sometimes mistaken for another kind of dogwood.
Viburnum blooms are sometimes mistaken for another kind of dogwood.

SALISBURY — The cooler than normal spring weather in some situations has prolonged and intensified colors of flowering trees throughout the county. Warm, sunny days and cool nights also promote cool-season turf growth and development necessary for survival in the impending hot summers. Below is a few questions from homeowners posed during the week about flowering trees and lawn care.

Question: There are a number of small trees with white, profuse blooms throughout the county. Some of them have flat, fan-shaped blooms. I have been told they were most likely some type of dogwood, but these don’t look like a typical dogwood. Are these kousa type dogwoods?

Answer: No, they most likely are not kousa dogwoods. It’s a little too early for kousa dogwoods. They normally leaf out first and then bloom. However, there are some trees blooming with flat blooms that are dogwoods. Yellow and red twig dogwoods are now in full bloom. Also in full bloom are a number of viburnum cultivars. These plants resemble yellow and red twig dogwoods but are very different. The leaves are always opposite with short buds that resemble deer tracks at the nodes. Look for kousa dogwoods to bloom later this spring.

Question: There is a weed in my lawn when I was a kid we called sour weed. It has a tall, reddish-colored stalk about 12 inches and has invaded my lawn. What is the real name for this weed and what do I do to control this weed?

Answer: What you have is red sorrel. The leaves can be fatal to livestock when eaten in large quantities. The mature leaves of red sorrel have a very unique arrowhead shape, and form a rosette. Use a lawn weed killer that contains 2-4,D and banvel. It may require multiple sprays to control the weed.

Question: I have some type of joint grass that is invading my lawn. What is this grass and how do I control it?

Answer: It’s most likely Bermuda grass. Control for Bermuda is best done with foliar sprays of glyphosate when the plants are actively growing in the heat of summer.

Question: I have some irises that I want to move. When is the best time to move bearded irises?

Answer: The best time to plant bearded iris is July through September. This will allow them to become well established before winter. Container-grown iris can be planted in the spring. For a mass of color, plant at least three rhizomes (spaced 8 to 10 inches apart) or plant undivided clumps; point each fan of leaves away from the center of the group. Clumps should be spaced 18 inches apart. Go to for more detailed information.

Question: There is a large shrub I see blooming in the county that looks like a big snowball bush. The bloom looks just like a hydrangea bloom, but it is snow white. What is this shrub?

Answer: The shrub is most likely a snowball viburnum. They grow profusely and are in full bloom now.

Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, Facebook or online at

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