My 9-year-old dogwood, planted as a memorial, this year looks bad -- most of the lower branches are dead and it has hardly any blooms on it. Any ideas? Looks to have some gray splotches on trunk and branches.
Would you be able to send us photos of the tree? Are there any signs of physical injury around the trunk or affected branches? Where there any changes around the planting area in the last year or so (e.g., poor drainage, change in soil grade, compaction from construction)? The gray splotches you see are probably lichens, which are not harmful to trees. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/lichens
Branch dieback can be caused by borer insects, cankers, and disease problems. Take a look at our fact sheet about dogwoods for information on some of the causes that may lead to decline. http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/TreesandShrubs/...
Thank you Christa. I think the landscaper over mulched the tree in the fall. I usually clear that away from the trunk. Could that be the cause? Should I cut off all the dead limbs now? Do you think the tree will survive? Sending 2 pix
Thanks for sending the photos. Your tree is really struggling and its survival is probably not likely. It looks like it is over mulched and planted too deeply. This can cause a slow decline. Sometimes when trees are planted the burlap or wire cage that contains the roots is not removed and when a tree gets to be about the age of yours it declines because the roots cannot grow beyond these barriers.
As mentioned the gray splotches are most likely lichens which aren't harming the tree. This would be the time to replant another tree. Please see the following information from our website on tree planting, http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/planting-process