Ask a Question forum: Red twig dogwood

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Name: Audrey
Illinois (Zone 5b)
Sep 10, 2016 4:43 PM CST
The last couple years, my redtwig dogwood was prematurely turning bright pink leaves on half the plant about early to mid summer. The stems are brown with white spots on them. Brought pieces back to where I purchased at a nursery and they said water issues. Again this year it happened, I pruned it down in late spring and the leaves grew back bright green normal color. Mid summer they instantly died and now half the plant is like this, maybe more than half. See images. One shows the pink leaves I was referring to, which were half the plant last year. Another pic shows the dead half vs the still good half.
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Ohio (Zone 5b)
Sep 10, 2016 8:08 PM CST
It looks like it might have a fungus to me. Do you water it a lot?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Sep 10, 2016 8:12 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Audreylynn1 !

This is really just a guess, but that looks like some sort of fungal disease to me. Red twig dogwood is native in my area (the 'regular' type, not with the variegated leaves) and nothing seems to bother it other than the deer. I hope someone here will have a more definitive answer for you soon!
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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Sep 10, 2016 9:30 PM CST
Hi Audrey, Welcome! to NGA

I see a couple things:

- Some sort of insect infestation? Maybe Mealy Bugs. Causing a mildew/fungal problem.

- Not enough water. Dogwoods always (when you find them out in the forest) are growing in a moist place. By a stream or ...

The red crispy edged leaves would suggest to me that your tree isn't getting the moisture it needs. I would look for insects (What am I looking at in #3?) also. If you find insects (for instance Mealy Bugs), that could be the source of what looks like a fungus.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Sep 11, 2016 5:01 AM CST
I've had a similar problem with the variegated red-twig dogwood. They're prone to all sorts of fungal diseases such as cankers that can cause branch die-back, anthracnose etc.. From what I understand once they get older they typically tend to deteriorate. I just cut out the wilted or dead branches at the base. Yours looks a little more than a few individual branches though, so if you want to know what the problem is (drought wouldn't likely cause those white spots on the branches unless it was a secondary infection after it died) you could take some samples to your nearest Extension office. In the case of the plants here, and it may not be exactly the same thing, they had ample soil moisture. Any disease that blocks moisture uptake in the branches will cause the leaves to wilt before the branch dies-back.

[Last edited by sooby - Sep 11, 2016 5:08 AM (+)]
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Name: Audrey
Illinois (Zone 5b)
Sep 17, 2016 7:28 AM CST
I have been watering it as much as I can remember to do so which is every couple of days. What worries me is the difference between the branches in the front compared to the back. Green vibrant vs black bumpy dead-looking however still alive within the branch. I did cut back the concerning branches to the ground, they grew back normal looking and within a few weeks those bumps and dead tissue came back. If it is a fungus, how would I best treat it? Thanks!!!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Sep 18, 2016 4:59 AM CST
Treatment would depend on identifying the cause, there are several fungal diseases that can affect dogwood, and also non-fungal problems. That's where taking samples to the Extension office would be helpful. Can you think of anything that is different between the parts that are affected and not affected? Does part of the plant get overhead watered by a sprinkler system and the other not? Are any herbicides used on an adjacent lawn? Does the struggling part get dripped on from the roof? Have you tried to scratch off any of the bumps to see if they're scale insects (they don't look quite symmetrical enough to me but hard to tell from a photograph).

Edited to add, is there any hint of colour on the white bumps, kind of a coral colour?
[Last edited by sooby - Sep 18, 2016 5:37 AM (+)]
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Ohio (Zone 5b)
Sep 18, 2016 5:49 AM CST
I'm thinking that it's too much water, causing a fungus. I only water trees/bushes during the first year of planting, then afterwards, their root system should be strong enough to support the plant. The only reason I would water something like a red twig dogwood after year one would be if there was drought, and it wasn't getting enough water and it was wilting.

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