Managing Deadly Diseases That Affect Your Precious Dogwood Trees

If you move into a home with dogwood trees dotting your lawn, you will be able to enjoy the picturesque sight of the flowering tree when it blooms with clusters of exquisite white flowers during the spring and summer. The trees are a favorite among home gardeners because of their aesthetically pleasing appearance. However, if you own dogwood trees, you should be aware of diseases that can destroy the plants quickly. The following tips can help you identify and manage diseased dogwoods.

Recognize the Signs of Deadly Diseases

While there are several diseases and pests that can damage dogwoods, only a few are actually deadly. Common problems like powdery mildew on leaves and leaf spot can be treated with fungicide. The most serious diseases of dogwoods include anthracnose, cankers and root rot.

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that originated in the Northeast and has made its way to dogwood trees all across the country. The first signs of the disease include dark, tar-like spots on leaves. The fungus will also cause branches and trunks to swell unnaturally causing trees to girdle. The disease can spread via fallen twigs and leaves. Pruning and applying fungicide can help the tree recover, but when you begin to notice severe symptoms, it may be too late to save the plant.

Cankers result from pathogens that infect trees, usually newly transplanted plants. They affect leaves, twigs and branches. Leaves are discolored and the tree exhibits stunted growth and eventually girdling as it begins to die. Canker pathogens contaminate the soil around infected trees.

Healthy trees in favorable soil conditions can withstand the presence of the fungi that cause root rot. However, when the soil in your lawn is not well-drained and begins to hold water, your tree will be vulnerable to any root rot pathogens. The disease can spread through the roots to the bottom portion of the plant, causing it to girdle. You know your tree is infected when you notice large, white, fan-like fungal tissue on the lower part of the tree. When you see the growths, the root rot is in advanced stages.

Hire a Tree Expert

Other than performing lawn maintenance, there is really nothing you can do to treat a tree that has been infected with potentially fatal diseases except to hire a tree expert. You need to make sure to remove fallen leaves and branches from infected trees from your yard. Do not put the debris of an infected tree in a compost pile. You will only be infecting your stash of healthy compost with material that contains soil-borne pathogens.

In addition to applying professional-grade fungicides, licensed tree specialists from companies like Hudson Tree Service can cut down infected branches safely and perform other pruning tasks to try and limit the reach of the diseases. In some cases, the culprit spreading disease may be old tree stumps. You should ask the tree specialist to remove all old stumps from your yard.

Remove Trees That Are Beyond Help

Unfortunately, trees that are severely impacted by anthracnose, cankers and root rot may need to be removed. Since dogwoods are such beautiful plants, it may be a difficult decision to have trees cut down. However, if you want to limit the reach of deadly diseases and prevent fungi from spreading to other plants and your neighbor's trees, you need to hire a professional to cut the plants down.

If you have any firewood from your dogwoods, you need to get rid of it. You can burn it or dispose of it at a landfill.

After the infected trees are removed, you will also need to fumigate your soil. You should not plant anything in the yard until the soil undergoes fumigation. You can purchase soil fumigant in liquid or capsule form from garden stores.

When you begin shopping for trees to transplant the removed dogwoods, make sure that you only purchase disease-resistant species of the plant, such as Cornelian cherry or the 'Constellation' and 'Stellar Pink' varieties of Eastern dogwood.