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Dogwood Anthracnose: How to Keep Your New Dogwoods Safe from this Fungal Disease

Did you know there's a disease caused by a fungus that has been spreading among our native dogwoods since its discovery in 1978? Dogwood anthracnose has caused serious losses to flowering dogwoods found in the forest and as ornamental plantings in the Eastern and Southern United States. The fungus is more prevalent during wet springs/falls, at higher elevations (3,000+ ft)), in shaded areas (especially north-facing slopes), and in cool moist planting sites.

Signs and symptoms of Dogwood anthracnose include:

- Small tan leaf spots, often with a ring of purple, often resulting in leaf mortality

- Leaves are aborted prematurely and might cling to the stems through winter

- Evidence of fungus fruiting bodies on dead stems

- Dieback from the lower branches and progressing to the top of the tree

- Cankers and bark shedding

- Epicormic shoots - young new stems that sprout from the main stem and along main branches

Click here for more information on Dogwood anthracnose and pictures of signs/symptoms.

There's not much that can be done to treat existing Dogwoods in your landscape that are already infected with Dogwood anthracnose, but there are several measures that can be taken to prevent the disease before planting.

Be sure to choose a planting site with:

- Good air flow

- Good water drainage

- At least part-sun if not full sun conditions

An even better way to prevent Dogwood anthracnose from infecting your Dogwood tree is to purchase a hybrid or variety that is anthracnose resistant. There are several different Dogwood selections that have the typical white, spring blooms and beautiful purple fall foliage as found in our native flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).

Painters Greenhouse is currently carrying two of these options - one hybrid and one variety of flowering Dogwood that carry traits of increased resistance to the disease, cold/heat, and drought tolerance. Another beautiful alternative resistant to Dogwood anthracnose is the Kousa Dogwood/Japanese Dogwood (Cornus kousa). (Note that Kousas are beautiful, but do not offer the benefits to wildlife that Cornus florida cultivars provide with their berries that are loved by birds.)

'Venus' Dogwood hybrid - Cornus x 'KN30-8'

A very fast growing hybrid with exceptionally large, white, flower-like bracts - 6+ inches in size! A vigorous selection from Rutgers University with exceptional winter hardiness, drought tolerance, and disease resistance. These trees are available in 3 gallon sized pots and are already 5 feet tall! This hybrid does have Kousa Dogwood genes, and produces a pink strawberry-like fruit in fall similar to Kousa Dogwoods which is lovely and edible for humans, but not eaten by birds or other native wildlife (Kousa Dogwood fruits are eaten by monkeys in their native range).

USDA Growing Zones: 5-9 Height: 15-20' Spread: 15-20' Sun Exposure: Part Sun to Full Sun Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil - some drought tolerance once established.

'Spring Grove' Dogwood variety - Cornus florida 'Grovflor'

This variety is one of the most floriferous of all Dogwoods due to the abundance of multiple terminal floral bracts. The variety was selected from Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, OH (photo is the parent plant in the cemetery). 'Spring Grove' has an average/moderate growth rate, and doesn't grow quite as fast as 'Venus', but does have the same disease resistance and cold/heat tolerance. As a cultivar of our native species, it does offer food for wildlife. The crown of 'Spring Grove' will mature to be wider than it is tall. Currently available at Painters in 3 gallon sized pots and measuring ~4' in height.

USDA Growing Zones: 4-9 Height: 20-25' Spread: 20-30' Sun Exposure: Part shade, part sun, full sun Soil Needs: Well-drained soil

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