Save a dying dogwood tree by identifying the root cause of its decaying health. There can be more than one reason, and the secret of reducing it depends on how fast you catch them.

How To Save a Dying Dogwood Tree

Our expert troubleshooting guide will help you identify the problem and assist you in resolving it. To learn the secrets of rescuing your dying Dogwood tree, just continue reading.

How To Save a Dying Dogwood Tree

Saving a dying Dogwood tree begins with the identification of the problem and then setting a plan of action to rescue it.

The solution could be with the use of pesticides, improving soil acidity, checking the drainage, or even mulching. Let us discuss all options one by one.

– Use Mulch 

Mulching helps the plant retain moisture and regulate temperatures. Many natural materials can be used for mulching, such as bark, leaves, straw and coir. Dogwood trees also appreciate the use of mulch around them.

Summer heat takes away moisture from the soil fast, which can damage the soil and leave it dry. As a result of this, the trunk of the Dogwood tree begins to crack, which leads to plant death. The secret is hidden in mulching if you want to avoid this problem. Spread mulch around the tree, making sure it doesn’t touch the trunk.

Mulching will revive a Dogwood tree by maintaining the soil temperature and having a cooling effect. It will also retain moisture and promote the healthy growth of the tree. To avoid stem cracking, check your tree during summer and as soon as there are signs of cracking, apply mulch immediately.

– Provide Soil Drainage

Dogwood trees need good drainage. It will not grow in clay-based soil because they retain too much water, and it will not like sandy soil because it drains too quickly. Try to find a balance between both, because in summer it will need plenty of water and both extremes will not be good for it.

Soil drainage affects the health of all plants. Poor drainage causes root rot and leads to plant death. On the other hand, if the soil drains too fast, there will be excessive dryness in the soil that will cause wilting of the trees. Wilting will result in the death of the Dogwood tree.

– What To Do

The problem can be solved if caught early. Soil texture and water retention can be improved if the soil is too dry. Mixing clay or loam soil can significantly improve water retention and plant health.

Wilting can also be caused by excess water. It happens after a spell of rain that causes water logging sometimes. In such cases, mix sandy soil to the surrounding area to assist in good drainage. If the plant can be moved, transplant it to another location that has the right pH, soil texture, and drainage. 

– Prune Your Plant

Dogwood Tree

Pruning can help a Dogwood tree in case it is infested with fungal disease. Once a fungal disease such as spot anthracnose spreads, the mortality rate increases. This disease spreads through water that splashes on the foliage and multiplies the problem. It affects indoor and outdoor plants equally.

Although many diseases can affect the growth and health of Dogwood trees, Dogwood anthracnose is one of the most deadly diseases that can cause death too. It attacks during the flowering stage and is most easily spread in the eastern and northwestern U.S. Each year, it causes many trees to die.

Pruning is a lifesaving practice in such a case. Trim the infected branches and remove them from the garden. Use a fungicide on the plant and follow the directions on its pack before applying it. The best way to prevent and slow down this problem is to keep a close eye on any changes in plant health and signs of disease. 

– Use Pesticides

Some pests attack the Dogwood tree and feast on its wood. The signs are visible holes on the stems or branches. These borers spread quickly and cause the death of the plant by damaging the core structure of the tree and leaving it weak.

The tree eventually develops seeping cracks in the trunk and is filled with sawdust. Too many of these holes prevent the free flow of nutrients up a tree, resulting in death.

Treat it with pesticides as soon as you notice the holes. If the problem is severe, you will have to uproot the plant and torch it. Unfortunately, this is the only way to prevent the spread of this pest and to save other trees. Borers can also be inside the soil and affect other plants.

Do not plant the tree back in the same spot for the next few seasons. Doing this will starve the pests in the ground and the extreme weather will kill them.

– Check Your Soil pH

If all of the above reasons are taken care of and your Dogwood tree is still dying, then it could be because of the soil pH. It will be best to test the soil pH levels. If the soil is too alkaline, then improve it with natural fertilizers. You can also use synthetic fertilizers and both will improve the plant’s health.

If you have an option, transplant the plant to a better location with improved pH levels.

– Provide Shade

Consider Moving Dogwood in a Shady Location

Dogwood plants like to grow in shade. If you plant it growing under full sun, your plant may not like it. Consider moving it in a shady location to assist it in thriving. 

Here is a handy table of the different symptoms, reasons and solutions to your Dogwood tree problems.

Symptom  Reason Solution
Wilting Poor Drainage The Dogwood tree is either getting too little or too much water. Drainage depends on the kind of soil. Sandy soil will drain fast while clay-based soil will drain slowly.

Improve soil by adding clay or loam soil. Add soil if the drainage is poor.

Cracked stems Dry soil Add mulch around the tree.
Holes in stems of dead branches on dogwood tree Pests Use pesticides or uproot and burn the plant in the worst case.
Unhealthy plant Incorrect Soil pH Improve soil pH using fertilizers.
Fungal disease Poor Health Prune the infected foliage.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of your questions about a dying Dogwood tree.

– What Is a Dogwood Tree?

A Dogwood tree is a very attractive and famous American landscape tree that is planted in autumn and begins to bloom in spring. It is popular because of its aesthetic nature and for being cold resistant. The Dogwood tree lifespan is over 80 years.

The tree can survive snow and temperatures lower than -30 degrees Fahrenheit. A mature Dogwood tree grows to about 30 feet in height, and some can even grow up to 70 feet high.

USDA suggests zones 4 to 9 as being ideal for growing Dogwood trees. Gardeners adore it for all these qualities, and that is why it is hard to see it dying.

– What Are the Signs of a Dying Dogwood Tree?

Some signs of a dying Dogwood tree include wilting foliage, cracking or peeling barks, holes in stems and branches, infected leaves, and discolored foliage.

Once you notice any of these happening, immediately take action and use the guide above to fix it. 

– Why Are the Leaves of the Dogwood Tree Burning?

The leaves of the Dogwood tree burn when the soil is dry. A thirsty plant begins to lose its leaves that first turn brown. Sometimes, a fungal disease will also do this to the plant, and pest attacks can be a cause too.

Look at the symptom checker above to identify the exact problem.

– What Should I Do With the Dead Branches on the Dogwood Tree?

Remove the dead branches on the Dogwood tree because these are the entry points of diseases. Cut them at the base where they connect to the stem.

– Why Does My Dogwood Tree Look Dead?

Why Does My Dogwood Tree Look Dead

The Dogwood tree looks dead because it has lost its canopy after the trunk has rotted away. Unfortunately, there is no chance of rescuing such a tree.

– Why Is the Dogwood Tree Dying Top Down?

The dogwood tree dying from top down might be because of a serious problem that is known as crown decline caused by many factors such as root stress, drought and poor soil.

Amend the soil, make sure it is not rocky and that there is enough water paired with good drainage to avoid this problem.


Save a dying Dogwood tree by taking care of its health and looking at possible signs of trouble. Our guide above highlighted possible symptoms and their solutions, and here is a review:

  • The Dogwood tree can be attacked by pests and diseases, and it will show signs of illnesses that can be treated.
  • Poor soil chemistry and drainage also affect its health.
  • Mulching and planting in shade will greatly help this tree.
  • A serious disease that affects the Dogwood tree is crown deline disease, which is caused by poor soil, stressed roots or drought.
  • It is possible to save the tree if the problem is caught and treated immediately.

In short, the beautiful Dogwood tree is an asset of any gardener, and taking little steps can save even a dying tree. We hope that by reading the guide above, you can now be confident in saving your Dogwood tree.

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