The Q&A Archives: Spots on Variegated Redtwig Dogwood Bush

Question: We purchased 3 Variegated Redtwig Dogwood bushes which came from Michigan. We noticed they were planted in sand and had brown spots on all the leaves. We inquired about the spots and the man said since they were planted in sand the plant has a hard time staying moist. Since we have clay in our area the spots would go away once we planted and watered them.

Well, the leaves kept getting spots and then yellowing and falling off. We called the nursery and he said we had a year guarantee and could return them but suggested we keep them and let them go through the autumn and winter. Then look at them in the Spring, if they have brown spots again we should then return them.

Not knowing what this is, if it's a disease or fungus, I am concerned that the falling leaves will make the soil under and around the bushes a harbinger of it and I will continually have this problem.

Please advise us what the spots are and how we can treat it, if possible, or should we just return them now.

Thank you for being there.

Best regards,


Answer: The shrub dogwoods such as this one are subject to a number of foliage problems. Some are exacerbated by soil conditions, humidity, overhead watering, and so on. Some are serious and some are not. You might want to take a sample to your County Extension (745-2732) for a more exact identification of the problem and suggested remedies, if any. In the meantime, as you have already realized, it is a good idea to clean up and destroy any fallen leaves in case there is potential for wintering over and reinfection. Good luck with your shrubs -- those are lovely plants!

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