KC Gardens

Is my flowering dogwood tree in trouble?

Question:

My flowering dogwood seems to be withering at the top of the tree. Is this due to too much moisture or insect or some type of disease? It is a very mature tree and is fully grown. It has been showing these signs for several months. Your information will be appreciated. Thank you - Sharon

Answer:

It would be good to know where the dogwood is situated on your property, what kind of exposure (sun/shade), and the drainage in the area. A tree wilting at the top usually indicates a damaged vascular system. My best guess is that it has received too much water this year.

Dogwoods like a well-drained organic soil. The copious rain we have had this year has damaged the root systems of many plants, especially in areas where drainage is poor. The excess moisture forces the oxygen out of the soil, which in turn damages the root system, so that the plant cannot move water effectively through its system. When that happens, the top of the plant is the first to wilt.

Some plants need to be watered if it suddenly turns hot and dry. Check the moisture level in the soil under the canopy of your tree. If it is dry several inches down, you may need to water, slowly and deeply in the canopy area, and continue to water through the fall so that it goes into winter with moist soil. Again, this is my best guess without pictures and more information of the cultural conditions to go on. Hope this helps.

Carole - Johnson County Extension Master Gardener

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