The Q&A Archives: Dogwood Failure

Question: We have a Dogwood tree whose branches are brittle and breaking and the underside of the leaves look brown and dry. Can you tell me what could be causing this and how to remedy it?

Answer: Dogwoods in our area are being stressed by a disease called Verticillium wilt. This may be what's effecting your tree. It causes leaves to be stunted, yellowish and wilted during hot weather. The tree may slowly die over several years. Some trees are able to recover. Peel back the bark of a dying branch and look for dark streaks that may be visable. That would pretty much define the disease. It caused by a fungi which lives in the soil. The fungi enter the tree through the roots, plugging the water-conducting vessels in the tree trunk. This cuts off the flow of water as well as the nutrients needed by the tree, causing it to essentially, starve to death. <br>There really is no control available. The best thing you can do for your dogwood is to feed and water it well. Remove only dead wood. Sometimes even if the leaves are wilting, it's possible that the branch could put out some new growth during the following growing season. Should you lose the tree and want to replace it, try the more disease tolerant and tougher tree, Cornus kousa.

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