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Dogwood Trees

Q.My dogwood tree

Zone 97213 (gardening zone 8b) | Beverley Davis added on January 30, 2018 | Answered

I started with 1 question, below. As I added info in the “note”, I realized I had a second question, so sorry it’s not obvious.
My dogwood tree was here when I bought my house 30 years ago. Consequently, I didn’t buy and plant it and it is a most peculiar tree, but I can’t find anything about it. What is peculiar is that it is made up of many very twiggy, spindly branches and very few branches of substantial size. Years ago, after an exhaustive search, I came across a dogwood species like mine in the internet, but now I can’t find it again.

Question 1. Do you know what kind of dogwood tree I have?

Note: In the photos below, you will see a board, upright, under the center of the tree. I am using it to prop up a key branch to life the branches higher above the ground. Without the board, the branches are only 14 inches from the level of the soil. About 25 years ago, my daughter and her friend would swing on the large swingset I built in the back yard. They would swing as high as they possibly could and still could not quite touch their toes to the bottom branch. I would guess that then the bottom branches were about 4 feet from the ground.

Question 2. This tree is growing DOWN! Do you know why? Is this normal for my tree or for any dogwood tree?

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Answered on January 31, 2018

First, let me say that it is hard to tell exactly what is going on with only a. few pictures to go on. My hunch is that your dogwood is not getting enough sunlight and the lower branches are simply reaching for the light. Having low branches also inhibits air circulation which isn't good as dogwoods as susceptible to several fungal diseases. I bet the dogwood used to get a lot more sunlight before the other trees, and fence, started to shade them. Under ideal conditions, dogwoods don't need much pruning. However, your tree is showing the need for a good, professional pruning. Timing is crucial as major pruning is done during the dormant season to prevent bleeding sap and insect/disease entry. I read that dogwoods last about 80 years depending on the variety. Being an older tree, it is likely to be Cornus florida, the native dogwood species or Cornus kousa, aka Chinese dogwood. C.florida blooms prior to leaf emergence and C. kousa blooms after leaves emerge. Another native dogwood is Pagoda dogwood, C. alternifolia which has a distinct shape including long lower branches. Other native varieties include silky dogwood, roughleaf dogwood, Pacific dogwood and gray dogwood. Search images of these varieties and see if you can name yours. If you choose to do your own pruning, which I don't advise, please carefully study how to prune this type of tree.

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