Dogwood problems

Asked September 4, 2019, 1:49 PM EDT

Two dogwoods in our woods seem to be dying, and rapidly, too. From the time I notice a problem, it only seems to take a few days for the leaves to turn brown and crisp. Both trees are more than 20 years old and have thrived until now. I'm not seeing spotted leaves or damaged bark. Other people have said that dogwoods seem to be in trouble this year. Is there any truth in that? Any idea what the problem is? Any suggestions for treatment?

Montgomery County Maryland abiotic issues trees

1 Response

Hi -- I am sorry to see the troubles with your dogwoods. We have not had reports of dogwoods being in trouble this year, other than the typical powdery mildew and leaf spot disease that they get (very common). The symptom that you are seeing does not look like a disease or pest issue. More likely there is some type of root problem. Flowering dogwoods are intolerant of waterlogged soils. Last year's excessive amount of rainfall was tough on a lot of plants and caused root damage in some cases. Then this year we had much drier weather and periods of extreme heat. If there was root damage last year, the tree cannot take up enough water/nutrients to meet its needs and you can get what appears to be a very sudden decline in the canopy. Essentially, the tree has reached a tipping point due to past stressors. Unfortunately, there is not anything you can do to reverse this damage. You can wait until next spring and see if the trees leaf out again. If they do not, then they are finished, unfortunately, and all you can do is replace them.