Easter 2006
Dogwood
near full bloom.

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Anthracnose
Tree Calendar
Julie's Trees



Facts at a Glance
Cornus florida

Planted Est. 1986
Planting height: 4'
Planting trunk: 1"

2006 Update
20-yr height: 20'
20-yr trunk: 30"

Mature Height: 15 to 30'
Spread: 15 to 20'
Growth rate: Moderate
Form: Layered, spreading
Flowers: White
Fall color: Wine red
Hardiness zone: 5 - 8
Culture: Partial sun

Best feature:
Flowers

Worst problem:
Anthracnose

Do over? No

Unseserving Protagonist

Julie's Forest: Growing Zone 6j

Thank God, I Stopped

My Dogwood and Me: Living With Anthracnose

Made It! (Almost)

I Believe!

What a Show!

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Blog | Julie's Trees | About | Links | Essays | Mail | Julie's Photography
A Tree Grower's Diary
White Flowering Dogwood

MY DOGWOOD AND ME: LIVING WITH ANTHRACNOSE

Photographs and text by Julie Walton Shaver

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Anthracnose Spots

This tree was diagnosed with anthracnose in June of 2004. The disease is not curable, but with special care and a lot of attention, it is possible to prolong the life of the tree by many, many years.


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May 2004

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June 2004

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The fact that the dogwood had striped leaves meant
it was stressed. So, I was standing outside studying
the tree when I noticed purple and brown spots and
some dead twigs near the bottom. I panicked!

A little research revealed that the tree was in the beginning stages of a disease called dogwood anthracnose. Since the tree was already stressed from the lack of iron, it quickly became susceptible to other problems. Symptoms of anthracnose include brown spots on the leaves, often
bordered by a purple rim.

Dogwood trees often die from this disease, but with
careful attention, the tree's life can be prolonged.

Affected branches must be removed -- but they must be pruned with care.

Here's what I did: Before each cut, I dipped the pruners
into a mixture of bleach and water -- 9 parts water to 1 part bleach -- and let the pruners soak for 1 to 2 minutes between cuts, then wiped away any remaining traces of wood. This helps prevent the disease from spreading to healthy branches.


As evident in these pictures, the tree seemed happy in May, then by June, the leaves had changed. The area around the leaf veins was still green, but in between was turning yellow.

A little research revealed that this condition is called chlorosis, and it meant that the tree needed more iron, a nutrient that is necessary for the production of chlorophyll in the leaves. Since chlorophyll is a source of food and energy for the tree, these striped leaves, while beautiful in a sense, led me instinctively to think that something was wrong with my tree. After a soil test revealed that the soil was slightly alkaline, I decided to add iron and sulphur to the soil. The sulphur would lower the soil pH (dogwoods like acidic soil) and the iron would take care of the chlorosis.

Not long after adding Ironite to the soil, I learned it has arsenic in it. Yikes! Not exactly the kind of thing you want next to your house. So, I had to find other ways to troubleshoot this tree's problems.



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UPDATE: May 2005

In June of 2004, I carefully and painstakingly pruned off all the branches
I could reach that showed signs of anthracnose
using the specific pruning method described above.

In fall, I raked away as many of the dropped leaves as I could
find, as early as I could get to it.

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In spring of 2005, I applied Ironite to troubleshoot the cholorsis problem.
Later, I learned that Ironite is dangerous to children and pets,
so I won't be using that again. There were still signs of yellow stripes in the leaves,
but it didn't look as bad in 2005 as it did in 2004.


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Amazing
I think between the bone meal and the
newspapers, which probably added a
decent shot of acid to the soil,
this tree is happy now!

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The black socks were NOT my idea.

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A Neverending Battle
In spring of 2005, I applied bone meal after having raked away and disposed of all the old mulch. I wanted to make sure the tree would not experience any problems due to lack of moisture or competition with weeds so I put down six layers of sopping newspaper at the base of the tree, then covered it with fresh mulch. A few weeks later, I fed the nearby arborvitae trees with Miracle-Gro, which probably also gave the dogwood tree a decent feeding.

In fall of 2005, I raked away all the leaves and disposed of them, and gave the tree another bit of bone meal.

I've never seen my dogwood look so full and healthy. After spotting the anthracnose in June of 2004, I thought the tree would be looking a lot worse by now. It just goes to show what a little tender loving care can do. I did not see one spot of anthracnose in 2005. Yay!

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Starting Over

May 1, 2006, and here we are again, cleaning out the old mulch, putting down a new layer of newspaper (after reading about Zack and Cody), adding more bone meal, checking for any signs of anthracnose (none yet) and topping it all off with fresh mulch.

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New Mulch
By evening, we were finished with our spring anthracnose plan . . .

   

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. . . and still had time for more pictures.

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She looks healthy to me.

 


See Julie's Dogwood journal
See the Dogwood growth chart
For Julie's detailed comments, see the Dogwood fact page
Read the latest Tree Grower's Diary blog entry


From Julie's Notebook



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