The Q&A Archives: Kousa Dogwood Half Dead

Question: The Cornus Kousa I planted four years ago appears to be dead on the lower half of it's branches (the branches have no leaves and are brittle.)The upper branches, however, do have leaves and have grown about two feet since planting. The tree has never flowered, and I was planning to dig it up until today I saw that it had developed one showy white bract on it's very top branch. Can I save this tree? It seems to be in a good location...a partly shaded area in moist, rather acidic soil.

Answer: In somewhat of a contrast to the native Cornus florida, Cornus kousa is actually quite a sunlover and prefers a well drained acid soil rather than a damp one. They do seem to bloom sparsely until well established and of a certain age, but the wait is well worth it as you are certainly aware. Unfortunately I can't tell you if the dieback is a result of your tree complaining about its location or some other problem; you might want to consult with a professional arborist as to how well suited this tree is for the location you have given it or if something else is bothering it.

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