Once I made a painting of a Dogwood tree. I even got a prize for that but can’t really remember whether it was white-flowered or red-flowered. Poor memory of mine!
However, my memory may suck, but Dogwoods still fascinates me like crazy. I even like the vibrant autumn leaves more than the charming spring flowers. Well, actually that’s the backbone, me writing this article.
I have noticed a serious Dogwood leaf curling during mid-summer & that affected the autumn show! After that, I tried to find out why the Dogwood tree shows leaf curling. Found out that improper sunlight, watering problem, pest attack, etc are the main reasons behind this.
So today’s article is all about this. I have covered the reasons, scientific explanations & DIY solutions. Without further ado, let’s dive into it.
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Why Dogwood Tree Leaves Are Curling?[Solutions]
1. Excessive Sunlight
Sunlight is something that trees can’t ignore but, too much of it is also not appreciated. Let’s see how Dogwoods react against high heat.
Causes & Symptoms
Throughout the whole year, you may have noticed that summer is the time when Dogwoods show maximum leaf curling. Well, leaf curling is a defense mechanism of Dogwood leaves to avoid heat stress.
Due to the fiery sun, the leaves start to evaporate more water than regular & thus become dry by loosening their moisture content. Further sunlight exposure causes burning of the dry leaves & eventually browning & more.
Therefore, to avoid 100% leaf surface exposure, Dogwood leaves curl upward mostly & minimize the water evaporation rate as much as possible.
Unfortunately, sunlight is something that you don’t control. You may arrange some shade as long as it is accessible heightwise. But if it is a tree, let it heal itself.
Dogwoods do best in partial sunlight. Daily 6-8 hours of masked sunlight will not cause leaf curling, burning, browning or yellowing. So, make sure you plant your Dogwood in a partially shaded place. Anything that can provide shade can be helpful for the tree. A bigger tree close to your Dogwood will offer partial shade.
2. Over & Underwatering
This watering problem is really a universal issue. It is hard to find a gardener who hasn’t got confused about watering at least once. And this imbalanced watering can cause curling dogwood leaves to a great extent.
Causes & Symptoms
Both over-watering & under-watering are not suitable for Dogwoods. Let me tell you what happens in these situations. In case of over-watering, water molecules replace the oxygen molecules of the soil, causing root rot & thus hinder water & nutrient uptake.
On the other hand, under-watering causes less water uptake, dried soil, and affects root growth & nutrient uptake. So, in both cases, Dogwoods don’t get enough water.
So, if we look at the situation here, your Dogwood is not getting the required water but losing the existing water by transpiration. Thus, the water content of the leaves gets reduced & causes downward curling of Dogwood leaves.
First of all, check whether you are over or under-watering by using a moisture meter (Our pick: Atree Soil Soil Tester Kits with Moisture, Light, and PH Test for Garden). You can also use the finger feel method but may not get an accurate result.
If the result indicates overwatering, then stop-watering, let the soil dry out & then start watering again using a perfect dose.
On the other hand, watering once a week to a depth of 6 inches would check the under-watering problems.
Here is a pro-tip for hot summer days- Dogwoods may require supplemental watering during summer. To alleviate the stress of the leaves, turn the garden hose onto a trickle and let it flow at the base of the tree twice a week for half an hour during hot summer days.
I would suggest a well-set drip irrigation system for your garden. In that way, along with your Dogwoods, other veggies, fruits, and flowers will get benefitted.
Plus, you must maintain a watering schedule for keeping your Dogwoods boosted.
3. Drying Wind
Drying wind is a combination of high air temperature, low relative humidity & high wind velocity. Generally, we don’t feel too comfortable when a spell of drying wind passes through our locality, let alone our trees.
Causes & Symptoms
Many Dogwood growers have faced this upward leaf curling due to drying winds. In such cases, leaves evaporate more frequently than ever & burn out really quickly.
So, a curled leaf can either mean it is already done evaporating & now it is burning out or can mean that it is decreasing the leaf surface to reduce the evaporation rate.
If possible, arrange some sort of windbreak to protect the dogwood tree. That’s the most that you can do.
Watering is a very good defense against drying winds. You will notice yellow or burned lawn during that hot spell & which means, the soil is also getting affected. So, keep an eye on the weather update & also keep following the watering schedule.
Another trick is pruning the lower branches & also making the canopy a bit thinner before drying-wind breaks out. Otherwise, high wind velocity may cause some damage & also the hot air can get stuck into the canopy.
4. Problematic Soil
Soil is the host of your Dogwood & your tree will show a lot more than leaf curling if it is not happy with soil.
Causes & Symptoms
You know, the basic science is, if the soil fails to provide adequate water & nutrients at the root zone, your Dogwood will be in deficiency & will come up with several symptoms like leaf wilting, yellowing, curling, dying & so on.
Now, you may ask which type of soil fails to provide the requirements? Well, it varies from plant to plant. For Dogwoods, the soil has to be well-drained, moistened but not soggy & slightly acidic. Measure the soil pH & if the range is between 5.5-6.8, then it is okay.
First of all, you have to find out the problem. If the soil gets dry easily, cover the root area with accurate mulch. To make it well-drained, add some compost or organic matter to the soil. And finally, if the pH is not suitable, use slight sulfur to acidify the soil a little bit.
5. Insect Attack
Aphids are the most common insects that cause Dogwood leaf curling. Not only this, but aphids also lure ants to the party. Here’s how these insects do the damage-
Causes & Symptoms
Aphids are sap-sucking insects. If you check the downside of the leaf, you may find a colony of them. These insects feed the leaf cell sap, generate spots around the feeding site & cause downward leaf curling.
Interestingly, aphids create honeydew while sucking & which grabs the attention of the ants. Thus this insect invites ants to a joint damage-making party.
Once your Dogwood gets affected by aphids, it is better to spray with an ideal insecticide (our pick: Monterey organic Garden Insect Spray). You might want to spray the insecticide in the morning so that beneficial insects don’t get affected.
Since Dogwood is a tree, I recommend using a commercial insecticide but, if you want to use homemade formula, here’s a recipe for you-
DIY Oil-Soap Insecticide
- 1 cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 tablespoon Dishwashing Liquid Soap
Take a jar & pour 1 cup vegetable oil & 1 tablespoon liquid soap into it. After that, shake the mixture properly. And there you go. The application rate is 2 teaspoon mixtures per liter of water.
Using insecticide beforehand is the best thing that you can do. Normally, aphid attack increases after rain. So stay aware during that particular season. Moreover, Nowadays, sticky traps are found to be highly effective against aphids.
6. Fungal Attack
Fungal attacks are both problematic & irritating. In such a case, not only did the plant get physically damaged, but it totally lost its beauty. Since Dogwood is a flowering tree, fungal attack is a great concern.
Causes & Symptoms
Dogwoods are highly susceptible to Powdery Mildew & Anthracnose. Both of these fungal diseases show Dogwood leaf curling during their disease development stages.
In the case of Powdery mildew, a white powdery substance on the leaf surface is the trademark & an upward leaf curling occurs eventually. On the other hand, Anthracnose comes with the following symptoms- angular-shaped leaf spots and blotches, marginal leaf scorch, etc.
Controlling fungal attacks is not easy. Most of the time, fungicides don’t really repair the damage. The best that fungicides can do is stop spreading the attack further.
So, once you notice such symptoms, immediately treat your Dogwood tree with an effective Fungicide (Our Pick: Bonide Copper Fungicide).
Additionally, you can also prune the affected leaves if possible.
Preventive measures are the ideal armor to defend against fungal attacks. First of all, keep your garden & gardening tools clean. Secondly, treat your Dogwoods by applying fungicides from time to time.
However, rainy seasons are best for fungal attacks. So, stay aware during that part of the year. Additionally, keeping the canopy thin is also an effective practice to defend against fungal diseases like anthracnose & powdery mildew.
A Dogwood tree needs nearly five years to establish its roots properly. So, for a young Dogwood tree, curling is normal. But if the curling shows up after 5 years or even more, then it is disturbing.
But don’t worry. Dogwood trees adapt quite well in any location. After a few years of establishment, they are well set in a garden. Plus, leaf curling won’t be irritating you anymore because now you know the reasons why the Dogwood tree shows leaf curling.
Hopefully, the solutions will come in handy for you. Just be a bit careful with your dogwood trees and get gifted with beautiful spring or early-summer blooms. Best of Luck.