Fertilizing a flowering dogwood.

stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))April 29, 2006

What should I use? When should I use it?

I live on Cape Cod, and we're a couple of weeks behind the rest of the region as far as spring goes. The dogwood's buds are just now starting to get bigger, so I imagine it's not too late to fertilize.

The tree is about 8 feet tall and established for 3-4 years(although last year suffered drought shock and its leaves folded up after June.)

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I don't fertilize shrubs or trees, just apply an organic mulch more or less annually. It is generally agreed that a soil test should be done to determine what, if any, nutrients are needed for the health of a plant. You can do lots more harm than good by applying unneeded fertilizer, especially to a woody plant. Annuals, maybe ok to overfeed; perennials, shrubs and trees, not a good thing to do.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 4:33PM
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triciae(Zone 7 Coastal SE CT)

The best thing you can do for your dogwood is to keep it watered in times of draught and mulch in a circle out to the drip line. But, keep the mulch away from direct contact with the trunk. Absolutely, do NOT pile the mulch up like a volcano like you see around town in commercial landscapes. It's an open invitation to insect infestations and disease. The mulch will help a lot to retain moisture in the soil and keep the ground cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. The tree, as noted above, does not need to be fertilized.

You can use shredded bark, wood chips, leaf mould, or compost to mulch with. Apply the mulch about 2" deep and replace annually.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 7:03PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Fertilizing a flowering dogwood is in most cases a big no-no. This tends to invite anthracnose and other fungal infections. Anthracnose is really decimating the dogwood population in the Eastern US as it is. It would definitely not be wise to invite it to your dogwood.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 10:30PM
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stevecapecod(6a-6b (cape cod))

Thanks. Funny thing--last year the dogwood's leaves curled up and never uncurled, leading me to think it had anthracnose. The local coop. extension service people looked at it and said no, it was just severe water stress.
Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 9:33AM
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treeskate(6a Hartford CT)

A co-worker asked me today about his flowering dogwood that is 4 years old and still does not have but a few flowers (lots of heathy leaves) while all around everyone's are blooming. He admits to using Hollytone. Any thoughts on this?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 5:21PM
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Lots of different types of stresses can keep a dogwood from blooming, or delay blooming; and some varieties just naturally bloom later than others.

Your co-worker might want to have the soil tested - it's inexpensive and will indicate what the nutrient content is of the soil around the tree.

I always thought that only nitrogen would harm plants, but have read that applying anything that's not needed can cause problems - even something as innocuous as bone meal. Who'd have thought??? This all came out when I posted a question on the trees forum. Those guys know their stuff! I got lots of links to studies about the effects of unneeded fertilizer.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 6:33PM
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Oh boy. What do you do if your nurseryman recommended Tree-Tone? This spring (second after planting), my Cherokee Brave had more buds than ever, but several of them are stunted. I haven't seen leaf spots like anthracnose, but there was some powdery mildew. I cleaned up the dead leaves as well as possible. We did have a long dry spell last summer that pretty much ruined gardening season.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 9:00PM
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It seems we made a fatal mistake a few weeks ago. We were adding an acid fertilizer to my evergreens and azaeleas, etc. and the package indicated that dogwoods could use the same treatment. So the man who does my gardening dumped a good amount of the acid fertilizer on the dogwoods, too. He actually put on less than the pacakge recommended - but it was still a lot - 1/4 cup on each dogwood bed! In any case, the dogwood leaves dried right up and have dropped off. The trees are now completely bare. They were young trees, just a few years old. I purchased most of them last year at Lowe's and they were doing just FINE until the acid fertilization treatment!! Now what I'm wondering is, are they completely dead or is there any possibility they'll put out new leaves? This is a heartbreaker as it was not easy for me to purchase these trees and I don't know when I'll be able to replace them. The other plants - evergreens and azaleas and rhodies - that received the treatment have done fine - and some of the other dogwoods seem to be ok - or at least to have suffered less damage. I hope they'll recover, too!
I would be interested in any helpful input.
Many thanks.
I am in upstate New York - Sullivan County, 80 miles from NYC - Zone 5/6.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:53PM
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