New Dogwood - leaves turning brown

mollybeansJuly 26, 2011

I live in the Detroit area. I just planted a 7' flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida 'Cherokee Brave') less than 2 weeks ago (mid July). I purchased it at English Gardens, it was in a plastic pot. I have good light sandy soil, and I added peat when planting. I also used root starter liquid fertilizer (diluted w/water). I followed planting instructions well. I have been watering it religiously - trickling with hose for at least an hour twice a week, plus using sprinkler, and testing soil with my finger. It is is in full sun, and it has been extremely hot - 90-100 degrees everyday last week.

Problem: Within a couple days of planting the leaf tips started turning brown. Then a patch of leaves started turning purple (their autumn color I believe). Little by little more leaves are getting brown tips, then the margins turn brown and crumbly. Some leaves have holes/cracks down the center. Some have turned completely brown and fallen off.

Does anyone have suggestions on what is happening and what I should do? I called the MSU hort.hotline and they said it could be transplant shock or effects from the high heat (many plants are suffering right now). They are also sending me some info on anthracnose. I'm hoping that my brand new tree does not have a fungus.

Any and all suggestions are welcome! Thanks in advance!

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paul_(z5 MI)

I'd agree with MSU -- sounds like transplant shock coupled with heat stress. Considering the size of the shrub and how hot it has been, I'd have recommended watering daily.

Easiest way to do so ....
Get a couple of empty gallon milk jugs.
Poke a hole w/ a nail on the side of the jug about 1/2 an inch up from the flat bottom.
Fill the jug up with water and screw on the cap.
Set the jug(s) under the dogwood and unscrew the cap just enough for water to slowly drip out.
Repeat daily -- assuming of course that it isn't raining or the sprinklers aren't running.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 3:02PM
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zuni(5a)

Give it a rest... literally. Too much fertilizer in the nursery, now too much water. Daily watering is needed only during the first week or two after planting. After that, water slowly and deeply twice a week (no more.) Be sure to keep 2 or 3 inches of mulch on the soil but away from the trunk.

Stop "sprinkling" since it causes leaf scald when the sun hits wet leaves; it doesn't do any good for the roots either. It's been a tough summer all round, so give it just enough water and then let poor little guy rest.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 12:28AM
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Ament(5a SD)

Also, those milk jugs, don't screw the lids on super tight either. Otherwise the water will stop coming out after the water/air transfer stops being able to happen. :) Trust me, I made the same mistake the beginning of this spring under the eaves of the garage. LoL Crazy issue that was.

~Tina

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 3:50AM
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nora_54(5)

I was advised that dogwoods are "understory" trees and not meant to be planted in full, direct sun. That being said, we lost a dogwood that we had planted in a part shade location. It's leaves exhibited similar symptoms as you described and we also felt that it had adequate, but not too much water. I saw an article and picture in Garden Gate magazine describing "bacterial leaf scorch" that seemed to fit what was going on with our tree. Every spring it would leaf out fine, but one or two branches would be dead. Then at some point in the summer, the leaf edges would begin to brown and the leaves would never turn colors in the fall, just brown and eventually fall. After giving it five years, we just took it out. Hope you have better luck!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:14PM
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