Hello, We have some questions about a Kousa dogwood we had planted by a...

Asked July 6, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT

Hello, We have some questions about a Kousa dogwood we had planted by a nursery in Fall, 2012. Please see the attached pictures. Last year the tree leaves looked ok but they were stunted. But we waited, understanding that these trees tend to start out slow. This year the leaves seemed larger and healthier and it also had some small white flowers early in the season. But several weeks ago the tree took a rather rapid turn for the worst. It began losing leaves at the very top and now this has progressed to what you see in the pictures, with the trend continuing from the top down. We don’t see any obvious fungus or insects on the leaves, trunk or branches, and we think that the tree has gotten plenty of water. One obvious feature in the picture is the large groups of daisies to the left and right. These have taken off and grown much larger than we intended, and we wonder if they might be competing with the Kousa. If so, please advise as to how and when we should remove or thin them, since we don’t want to damage the Kousa’s shallow roots. If it’s not the daisies, could it be a root disease or a problem with the soil? With respect to the latter, our soil has a relatively high content of clay so perhaps it’s not draining properly. Or maybe it’s something entirely different... Please advise what you think the problem might be, and how we can rectify it if possible. Thanks! - Dave & Patty

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

The daisies are probably not related to this problem with the Kousa.

The photos are not close enough to the leaves and trunk to say for sure, but we cannot see any disease or insect problem in the photos.

Half the time, plant problems are environmental/cultural. Overwatering will cause the symptoms in the photos. Another cause of slow death is planting too deeply.
Please review the causes of abiotic plant death in this fact sheet from our web site:http://extension.umd.edu/learn/common-abiotic-plant-problems-hg86 The "bath tub" or "teacup" effect is especially common in clay soils.