The Q&A Archives: Withering Dogwood Trees.drought stricken

Question: During the drought season here in Birmingham, the heat was over 103 for ten days straight... I look up at my dogwood trees and the leaves wither, and fall from the tree. I think they are dead! Two of them> the third one looks rough yet alive. Is there a slim chance that the dogwoods could bounce back?!! Could they possibly be in some sort of dead-like state? How can I sure-fire know they are completely gone?!

Before I take the ax to the trees, would I have to wait to spring to find out if they are alive!?
Their roots are wide spread and really rooted. Would I have to remove the roots and all or can the roots remain as compost and when should I plant new dogwoods-if the two are no longer alive?

Answer: Early foliage drop is a coping mechanism for drought stress. It is not so unusual for dogwoods to drop some foliage in late summer during an extremely stressful time. With mature established trees that have withstood the weather changes over decades, I would be very patient and wait and see until next spring.

In the meantime, you could do a slow, deep watering to hydrate them. Dogwoods are shallow rooted but their roots spread wide, beyond the tips of the branches. If you can slowly water over a wide area, letting it soak down in deep, that might be helpful. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down to see how far the water went -- it should soak down ten inches or so to do the job.

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