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How to Determine If a White Dogwood Tree Is Dead or Alive

How to Determine If a White Dogwood Tree Is Dead or Alive

White Dogwood trees are among the most beloved deciduous, flowering trees in the country, and for good reasons. Noted for their long, graceful branches and eye-catching bracts, White Dogwoods are generally planted as specimen or accent trees because of their stunning ornamental value that lasts through all four seasons. The U.S. Department of Agriculture groups White Dogwoods, or Cornus Florida, in plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, which extends throughout the Eastern parts of the United States.

In these areas, climate and environmental conditions change. This means without proper care, White Dogwoods can easily succumb to stress under these outside conditions, which can make them more vulnerable to damage, disease, and pest infestations. If you have a White Dogwood tree on your property that seems unhealthy, continue reading to learn how to determine if it’s dead or alive.

Common Signs of Stress

It is important to check your trees on a regular basis for any signs of stress. Catching a problem early on can save your trees, but also save you from a huge hassle. Neglecting to address tree problems will not only jeopardize safety, it can lead to costly repairs in the case that a tree falls on a car or house. In terms of Dogwoods, they are sensitive trees that require special attention under certain circumstances. For instance, mowing and weed-whacking must be done very carefully near Dogwood trees because they have shallow root systems.

And when it comes to fertilization, they will respond poorly to the slightest miscalculation. Too much fertilizer will cause just as much stress as too little. Poor sunlight and inadequate soil conditions will put them under stress as well, causing them to lose health and vigor. Common signs of stress include leaf loss, crown dieback, stunted growth, poor foliage color, and more. Overtime a Dogwood exhibiting these signs of stress will eventually die.

Checking for Life

To see if a White Dogwood tree is alive or not, you can administer a simple DIY test. The only tool you will need is a small pocket-style knife. To save time, keep in mind that a Dogwood tree that does not grow leaves during the entire growing season is dead. So if you noticed that your White Dogwood has not bloomed at all and the peak growth season for trees is over, it is most likely dead. If this is not the case for your White Dogwood, move forward with the test to determine if it is alive or not.

Step 1

Examine the bark of the tree, focusing on the base of the trunk and the base of the larger branches. If the bark is peeling, it could indicate that the tree is diseased or dying. If the bark has peeled away, or flakes off easily at the thickest part of the branch, the branch is dead, but maybe not the whole tree. If there is a ring of missing bark around the base of the trunk, the entire tree is likely dead.

Step 2

Use your pocket knife to scrape off 1 inch of bark from the base of the tree’s trunk. If the bark is firm and the flesh is moist, the tree is alive. If it is dry and brittle, the tree is dead.

Step 3

Grab a small twig at its tip and press your fingernail into the flesh. If you can penetrate the twig’s moist tissue, it is alive. Bend it in half to see if the twig is flexible and the flesh is green. This is another indication of life. If the twig snaps easily and is dry on the inside, it is dead.

Professional Tree Care

If you are uncomfortable or unable to perform this test, contact a local and trusted tree care company for professional assistance. They have the proper tools, training, and resources to accurately inspect all species of North American trees, as well as, diagnose, treat, and remove them when needed.

A dead Dogwood should be removed as early as possible to avoid dangerous accidents and pest problems. Get a free estimate from your tree care specialist to gauge the price for tree removal service. Just always remember, routine tree care is the first and only step for healthy, happy trees that stand the test of time!