Is the dogwood tree dying?

Asked June 13, 2020, 8:13 AM EDT

A mature (16' tall, diameter at base 12") white dogwood appears to be dying and wonder if it can be saved? Although it bloomed and flowered as usual, it now has small leaves fading in color with slight curl on the edges and brown dots on the leaf underside and top. Could it be from lack of water, fertilizer or a fungus/ blight? Another white dogwood 20 feet away looks healthy & does not have the issue with large dark leaves.

Earlier this season I wrote about pachysandra which was yellowing and dying from volutella blight but has recovered with treatment suggested from this site. Is the tree contaminated by a similar blight? The pachysandra is 30 feet from the stressed tree.
I have a good close-up picture in my email file of the leaves taken by my daughter but I do not how to attach it. Perhaps you can help.

Howard County Maryland

5 Responses

We would like to see photos of the whole tree, around the base, and affected foliage so we can see what you may be dealing with. You may have to upload the photos to your computer and attach to this reply.

The dogwood is not affected by the same disease as the pachysandra. In general most diseases are host specific.
The dogwood sounds like it may be exhibiting symptoms of powdery mildew and spot anthracnose, fungal diseases. We have been receiving many questions about these issues due to the cool wet spring and possible poor growing conditions.
Here is more on care and management of disease of dogwood


Hope these can help and you can ID the issue as it is beginning to appear in the now healthy dogwood.

The leaves primarily show dogwood powdery mildew, but also appears to have some anthracnose diseases. It has been a particularly tough year with anthracnose.

The weather this spring favored these diseases and many dogwoods look terrible. It's too late to apply fungicides. See the link above.

Some dogwoods are more resistant to these diseases than others, just like humans vary in resistance to the flu, etc. You second dogwood is either naturally more resistant, or is healthier and in a better location.

At any rate, if the suffering dogwood continues to have disease at these levels every year it will decline. Be sure to replace with one of the new powdery mildew resistant varieties on the market (in the link is a list.) Meanwhile, water during droughts, so it is not further stressed.

We notice in the third photo that wintercreeper euonymus is attacking one of the trees, heading up the trunk. This "groundcover" has gotten loose in Maryland and is now a destructive non-native invasive plant. We recommend that you remove all of it.


Hi Ellen,
Thanks for the quick response. I will remove the wintercreeper today. Is there anything that can be done to more healthy dogwood to minimize its' damage, you mention that it is too late to use fungicide on the already damaged tree,
Is there an explanation as why the same species of tree, only 10-15 feet apart would react differently? Also, next spring should the affected tree be treated prior to blossoming?


Your treatment options for each disease are covered in the first link, including timing for fungicides

Trees within the same species have slightly different DNA which means different levels of resistance to disease, just like humans.

Also, there are differences in the tree site that we cannot discern--especially underground-- such as varying amount of moisture or nutrients reaching the roots because of root competition from other plants nearby. No two locations are exactly identical, though they seem so to humans. Trees also get different amounts of sunlight or air circulation.