What is causing the leaves of my pagoda dogwood tree to dry up?

Asked July 2, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

We live in northern Idaho and have planted a pagoda dogwood tree about a month ago. We have had a few hot days, but not many, and we have noticed that the leaves on the tree have dried up. The tree did have blooms of yellow flowers and after that the leaves started to dry up. We have had a lot of rain, until lately. We chose a spot where the tree has both shade and sun, but the sun is in the afternoon, when it is the hottest. I am watering the tree daily at the base and have put compost around in the dirt. So far, nothing has changed. Now I am wondering if I need to fertilize the tree but do not know what kind. Please help us understand what has happened to our tree and how best to help it get back to being healthy again. This is a new kind of tree for us.

Kootenai County Idaho trees and shrubs pagoda dogwood lrk

1 Response

Typically, late spring is an appropriate time to plant new trees, but if the weather heats up suddenly, these transplants can find themselves without an adequate root system to support the canopy.

If this tree was either a containerized tree or a balled-and-burlapped tree, it would have started life at your place with a compromised root system. Eventually, with gentle care, it will establish new roots in its new home and hopefully thrive.

Be aware that:
1. It's possible for the tree to defoliate but not die. Give it time and hope for the best.
2. Although dogwood trees prefer moist environments, an overly wet condition can lead to other problems, especially in a slower-draining soil. I would cut back on the watering and only water when the root ball is dry, and when you do irrigate, water long enough for the water to soak down as deep as the tree is planted.

Generally we do not recommend fertilizing trees until they are well established. You want the tree to focus energy on root growth, not top growth, and it doesn't need added fertilizer to do so.

For more information on the planting and care of young trees, check out our website on Planting Trees, Shrubs, and Vines.

I hope that the tree recovers. If not, I hope you purchased from a local nurseryman who can offer you a replacement guarantee!

Thank you for contacting University of Idaho Extension.