My local nursery planted a healthy dogwood tree on my property (south facing with plenty of sun and shade- nice mix) 3 years ago and I watered it as indicated by the nursery (one extra large bucket of water w/holes in the bottom once/week) for the first year when rain was not in the forecast. Unfortunately, that first year, we had an extremely hot summer with very little rain. I continued with watering it as indicated throughout that summer though it really seemed to me that it needed more water. I was told not to water more frequently though it went again my intuition in the matter. After that first summer, it dropped about 3/4 of its leaves and it really hasn't bounced back very well despite receiving adequate watering over the last couple of years/since that time. This current Spring 2015, I only have 1/4-1/3 of the tree in bloom and the rest of the branches really look dead. I would appreciate any suggestions: should I fertilize, prune off the dead-looking tree limbs, replace the tree, etc.? I am at a loss to know what to do at this point. Thank you....
St. Charles County Missouri
You must be talking about the drought of 2012. That's was an extremely dry, hot summer, and even the spring was warm and dry. I would guess that the tree is suffering from environmental stress. Adequate water during the first two growing seasons can determine whether dogwood trees live or die. Water them thoroughly once or twice a week during dry periods. Watering too frequently, however, saturates the soil and may rot the roots. Continue to water during the dry fall months. Fertilizer your dogwood each spring, typically March is a good time. Do it now if you haven't already. Do not over-fertilize young trees in an effort to accelerate growth. For established trees, apply ½ pound (1 cup) of a complete fertilizer like 12-12-12 or 13-13-13 or 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 or whatever you can find, per inch of trunk diameter (4 feet above ground level) in March and again in July. If you think the limbs are really dead, you should prune them out. You could also take photos of the tree and take them to the nursery that planted it and see if they have any other advice for you. If they will replace it, then have them do it.
Thanks so much for your response. Yes the summer of 2012 was very difficult. I contacted the nursery and they are replacing my tree so we'll hope for a better result this time around.