Dogwood Tree Leaves Turning Red? [3 Reasons & Solutions]

Are your dogwood tree leaves turning red and looking rather ugly?

Well, this is a very distressing matter. However, it is not just only about the appearance, the red leaves can even kill your precious Dogwood tree. So you need to start treating your tree without any delay. Otherwise, you might not see blooms in your dogwood during spring. But before that, you need to know exactly why the dogwood leaves are turning red

There are 3 main reasons- Anthracnose, Dogwood borer, and leaf scorch that makes the dogwood tree leaves red.

In this article, I am about to discuss how to solve these problems in the easiest and quickest way possible.

So let’s get started-

Why Are The Dogwood Leaves Turning Red [Complete Solution]

1. Anthracnose of Dogwood

Anthracnose is a very common fungal disease of Dogwood trees. It’s a very serious disease for dogwoods because it can be fatal to them. Anthracnose prefers cool, moist, and shady environments. 

Because of this fungus, the leaves turn red with purple blotches on the edge. Even it attacks the flowers and fruits. And eventually, the leaves and the flowers start to drop.

These symptoms start appearing in the spring. Usually, it starts with the lower branches of the tree and moves up to the top. Also, the infection spreads very fast through the water.

Control Measure

Remove the infected leaves at first and carefully throw them out. Make sure they don’t get in contact with other trees.

Now, get the best fungicide for your dogwood trees that won’t damage the bloom(Our Pick: Bonide Copper Fungicide). Apply the fungicide during early spring on the base of the tree.

Also, you can try other natural control measures by following the recipes given below:

Recipe 1:-Baking Soda Spray Recipe


  • 4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid
  • 2 teaspoons of any cooking oil 
  • 4 liter of water


  • Add baking soda and cooking oil to a mixing bowl 
  • Then add the liquid soap
  • Mix with water and stir slowly
  • Now pour it into the sprayer.
  • Spray on your Dogwood tree up to twice a week.
  • Keep spraying regularly until the infection is stopped

#Recipe 2:- Copper Spray Recipe


  • 1 gallon of water
  • 60 ml of copper sulfate
  • 10 tablespoons of hydrated lime (Calcium hydroxide)


  • Add water and hydrated lime in a plastic bucket. 
  • Do not use any metal bucket. Because the ingredients react with metal.
  • Stir the mixture slowly with a plastic spoon. Avoid metal spoon 
  • Start adding the copper sulfate into the container and continue to stir. You have to keep stirring because the hydrated lime will settle down very quickly.
  • Put the mixture into the sprayer
  • Shake the mixture very well before spraying. 
  • Wash the sprayer thoroughly after spraying because this mixture is very corrosive.
  • Don’t store this mixture for future use. Prepare a new solution every time.

Note: Before spraying these homemade solutions try on a small area first to see if it suits your dogwood. If the leaf burns then add some water to the solution and try again.

Preventive measure

Plant Anthracnose resistant varieties of dogwood like – ‘Kousa’, Aurora’, ‘Celestial’, ‘Galaxy’, ‘Ruth Ellen’, ‘Star Dust’, ‘Stellar Pink’ etc.

When you suspect fungal growth on your trees remove the leaves and branches that look diseased. Don’t let them be attached to the tree for much longer.

Make sure your dogwood is getting enough sunlight and air. Prune off some branches when the tree is too bushy. Do not apply high nitrogenous fertilizer(Recommended ReadingDogwood Tree Plant Food). Because it makes the tree susceptible to many diseases.

Avoid transplanting seedlings from woods. Because the soil in the wood can harbor fungal diseases. Don’t let the leaves of your dogwood stay wet. Water them at the base in the morning so the tree has enough time to dry in the sunlight.

2. Dogwood Borer

Dogwood borers are small moths that have black and yellow stripes on their wings. They usually feed on the bark and make the dogwood leaves look red. They create lumps at the base of the trunk which are called burr knots.

When there’s severe infestation the leaves and branches start to fall off. If they are not controlled timely, the feeding can kill your dogwood tree.

Control Measure

The good news is that these borers can be easily controlled by using the right insecticide. Apply the best quality insecticide on your dogwoods (our pick: Monterey organic Garden Insect Spray). Follow the package instructions and for best results apply them at the base of the tree. 

You can also spray the insecticide on the whole surface of the barks and leaves very well to effectively kill off the borers.

Try some homemade remedies like insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and neem oil to control their infestation. The recipes are given below:

#Recipe1:-Insecticidal Soap Recipe

It’s very effective for borers because this mixture kills them by suffocating them


  • 500 ml of any cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap


  • Add the oil and liquid dish soap together and mix thoroughly
  • Store this mixture in a bottle.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of this mixture to one liter of water
  • Spray directly into both sides of the leaves and on the bark surface

#Recipe 2:- Neem Oil Recipe

Neem oil spray comes in very handy against any insect attacks including dogwood borers.

  • Mix 5 tablespoons of neem oil in 5 liters of water
  • Then pour it into the sprayer and spray it twice a week on your Dogwood trees.
  • You can also spray it regularly as a preventive measure.

#Recipe 3:- Horticultural Oil Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap 
  • 250 ml of any cooking oil like olive oil or vegetable oil. 


  • Add the soap and oil together and mix very well
  • Store the mixture in a bottle.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of this mixture with every liter of water and pour it into the sprayer.
  • Spray on your dogwood trees twice a week until the pests go away.
  • Use it regularly to prevent any future attacks.

Preventive Measure

Do not prune the dogwood trees from April to June. Because this is the time when the dogwood borers are more active. And they can easily attack the bark of your trees through open wounds of pruning.

Remove the severely infected branches so that the borers don’t spread to the other parts. Get rid of the infected branches. Wrap them up in a plastic bag and throw them in the garbage. Keep the area weed-free because the borers hide in them sometimes. 

3. Leaf Scorch

When the temperature is too high and the weather is very dry then leaf scorch can easily happen. Dogwoods have a shallow root system. So, they are easily susceptible to environmental stress.

During very hot and dry seasons the leaves start turning red and brown with brittle edges. Eventually, the leaves start falling off.

Leaf scorch doesn’t kill the dogwood trees but it weakens them a lot. So, the tree needs to be treated immediately. Because the weak dogwood gets attacked by any disease and pests very easily.

Control Measure

Water the dogwood in the right amount during dry conditions. Get a moisture meter to have a good watering schedule (Our pick: Atree Soil Soil Tester Kits with Moisture, Light, and PH Test for Garden). New dogwoods require more water, especially in its first year. Also, apply 3-4 inches of mulch to keep the moisture in the soil for a longer period. 

Preventive Measure

Before planting the dogwood make sure to plant them in partial shade. Because too many hours of sunlight can bring leaf scorch. But do not overwater them. Because waterlogged roots will get infected by crown rot very easily. 


Spring brings lots of beautiful blooms to your dogwood. But on the downside, spring brings many diseases and pests also. When the dogwood tree leaves are turning red you should start searching for the root of the problem. Otherwise, your trees won’t be blessing you with their beautiful flowers.

I hope this article has helped you to find the problem and guided you to the right direction with their solutions.


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