Why My Dogwood Tree Not Leafing Out? [4 Reasons + Remedy]

Dogwood trees are mainly popular for their colorful flowers, beautiful foliage, and distinctive bark. However, due to some health issues, their maintenance is not always very easy.  Many gardeners experience the problem of not leafing out of their dogwood trees. There are several reasons why your dogwood tree is not leafing out; including Improper sunlight, Drought stress, Lack of Water, Diseases, and Excess fertilizer 

But don’t worry, there is also a straightforward solution to this problem. In this article, I will tell you about it in detail. So let’s get started.

    Problem             Solution 
Improper Sunlight At least 4 hours of sunlight is recommended.
Drought stressUsing a self-watering machine is good.
DiseasesCultural and Chemical control is recommended.
Excess fertilizer Apply fertilizer only when needed.

4 Common Reasons for Dogwood Tree Not Leafing Out

There are several reasons why a dogwood tree may fail to leaf out in the spring. Here are four common reasons with control measures:

1. Improper Sunlight 

Improper sunlight is the main cause of dogwood trees not leafing out. If you place your plant in a location where it gets shade all day long it can be fatal for your tree.

The reason I’m telling you now is that when your plant gets absolutely no sunlight, its most essential process of photosynthesis is disrupted. As a result, the new leaves do not get enough food to grow. As a result, it does not open even after a long time has passed.

Control Measures 

Dogwood trees generally prefer bright indirect sunlight. So you must ensure 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. It is best to choose a site where your tree receives morning sun and afternoon shade together. 

If that’s not possible, place the trees where they will receive partial sunlight. But you must protect the tree from the afternoon sun. Using a shade cloth is a very good idea for the afternoon sun.

Additionally, I would suggest you plant more fast-growing shrubs like tulips next to your tree. They will ensure the shade for your tree.

2. Drought Stress

Drought has a negative effect on dogwood trees and is also responsible for not leafing out. If your tree is in a drought-prone location The shallow root system of the tree is constantly stressed. As a result, plant growth stops. 

Of greatest concern is that young trees are more susceptible to this problem and are easily damaged. This causes the plant to stop growing and not develop new leaves.

Also, because of the high temperatures in drought-prone areas, your garden soil can easily become dehydrated. Lack of water disrupts the normal biological activities of plants. Which is one of the catalysts for them not to leaf out.

Control Measures 

Avoid planting dogwood trees if your area is prone to drought. But if you have already produced then I suggest you take extra care of the plant. 

In that case, first of all, you need to select soil that can hold water for a long time. The most ideal practice is to mix plenty of organic material into the garden soil.

Many trees cannot be planted together in the same location. Never plant too many trees in the same place. Quickly move other trees near your dogwood tree away.

Using a self-watering machine is wise during drought days. This will help keep your plant hydrated at all times. Besides, you can spray fresh water on the plant twice a day.

3. Diseases

The disease is one of the main factors which causes dogwood trees not to leaf out. Dogwood trees can be attacked by various insects and pathogens such as powdery mildew, Spot anthracnose, septoria leaf spot, Leaf scorch, and so on. 

When your dogwood is attacked by powdery mildew diseases there are several white powdery coatings on both sides of the leaf surface which also leads to leaf scorch and yellowing. Ultimately it prevents the plant from developing new leaves. 

In addition, you can easily identify diseased trees by the presence of organisms around the plant, leaf holes, leaf drops, leaf curling, and wilting.

Control Measure

Treatment for diseased dogwood trees is pretty straightforward. The primary treatment is cultural control. In this case, the affected tree should first try to suppress the disease by spraying fresh water. If the result is positive, the next step is to prune the affected parts of the tree. Some homemade insecticides like neem oil and baking soda spray also work well.

But if the infection is severe, the only way is chemical control. In this case, you must use a good quality insecticide, fungicide, or antibacterial. But you should try to avoid using too many pesticides.

Additionally to prevent your dogwood tree from diseases you need to select a suitable place where your tree gets enough sunlight and shade. Again, don’t make your soil too watery . as prevention is better than cure, so give your dogwood proper care. 

4. Excess Fertilizer 

If all of the above reasons are not responsible for your dogwood plant’s leaf out, it is most likely due to excess fertilizer. Many beginners think that applying more fertilizer to plants is beneficial for plants. But this is a very wrong idea.

When you apply more fertilizer to your plants than they need, several negative things happen to your plants. First, salt levels increase in the biological cycle of plants. As a result, the plant becomes easily dehydrated and the production of food in the leaves stops, the leaves drop and new leaves do not leaf out.

Additionally, excess fertilizer can burn your plant’s roots, preventing the plant from collecting water and other nutrients from the soil.  Excess fertilizer in the soil raises the pH level of the soil which becomes fatal for plants.

Control Measure

Make sure your garden soil is nutrient deficient.  If a specific nutrient is low then it should be applied during soil preparation accordingly.  In this case, the manufacturer’s info written on the fertilizer packet must be followed.

If your tree’s leafing out the problem is due to over-fertilization, give the tree plenty of water for a few days to remove the extra salinity.  If the tree is not very mature then the best way is to replant it.  In that case, care should be taken so that the roots of the tree are not damaged in any way.

Fertilizers are essential for plant growth but avoid over-application of fertilizers.  I would suggest you use organic compost.  Because it has no side effects.  Also, you can apply an NPK (12:8:8) twice during the growing season. 

As spring is the growing season for the dogwood, it will be better to fertilize in spring and three months later. Again you must remember that young dogwood trees Don’t need any fertilizers because nitrogen can burn their root system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When should a dogwood tree start to leaf out?

Dogwood trees typically start to leaf out in early to mid-spring, depending on the climate and location.

Can a dogwood tree recover from winter damage?

Yes, a dogwood tree can recover from winter damage if the damage is not severe. If the buds were damaged, the tree may still produce leaves, but they may be smaller or delayed in growth.

What is dogwood anthracnose, and how can it affect leaf growth?

Dogwood anthracnose is a fungal disease that can cause leaf blight and stem cankers. Infected trees may have stunted or no leaf growth, and the leaves may appear scorched or spotted.

Why does my dogwood tree look dead?

The Dogwood tree looks dead due to canker disease. This disease occurs in dogwood trees mainly due to the attack of a type of fungus.  Their attack is so severe that the tree dies if left untreated.

Why does my dogwood have no leaves?

Dehydration is the main cause of leafless dogwood trees. When plants don’t get enough water, they dry up from the inside. If this continues for a long time, the tree becomes dehydrated and the leaves fall off.

Does dogwood need a lot of water?

The water needs of dogwood trees vary seasonally. During the rainy season, they usually do not need to be watered. However, deep watering is required once to twice a week during the dry season.

Final Words

Now you know the reasons why dogwood tree does not grow leaves. So it is very easy for you to solve the problem now. By providing partial sunlight, regular feeding, and seasonal pruning you can help your dogwood plant grow new leaves.

Issues that prevent your dogwood plant from growing new leaves must be avoided. And therefore regular plant care is a must.  

Hopefully, my article will help you find and resolve the cause of your dogwood tree not leafing out.

Keep Smiling and Happy Gardening.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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