Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dogwood Variegation: Anomoly or Disease?

Leaves of this dogwood have yellow edges.

I noticed that one of the young Cornus florida seedling trees has yellow margins to its leaves. I looked at all the other seed-grown dogwoods. This is the only one with yellow edges.

Variegation does not look like mineral deficiency which
usually manifests in prominent green veins and entire leaf

I searched dogwood diseases. We commonly see the dots of Spot anthacnose and Septoria leaf spot about this time of year, cosmetically unattractive but not deadly. Discula antracnose kills. Powdery Mildew is another problem of dogwoods. None of these cause yellow borders on the leaves.

A look at the full tree. These seedlings are about five years old.
A sister plant about 20 feet away is solid green.

I read about variegated dogwoods, not uncommon. None of the photos I saw looked exactly like this one, but some were similar. Among the common cultivars for sale are Cornus florida "Rainbow" "Welchii" "Golden Nugget" and "Variegata." There were not photos of all.

Another dogwood in the general area with plain green leaves.

Another tree in full sun, lighter green but uniform color.

Another look at the variegated tree. It has put on tiny buds
for next spring's bloom just like the others.

This tree had odd leaves last year. I paid little attention to it.

Does anybody know about variegated Dogwoods?


  1. My money would still be on a mineral deficiency or toxicity. I don't know anything about dogwoods specifically, but yellow margins on otherwise green leaves indicate potassium deficiency in Caladium and magnesium deficiency in Aglaonema or Philodendron.

  2. The only reason I had to doubt mineral deficiency is that a gardenia hardly 4 feet away has healthy leaves and bloomed. Not that there couldn't be a need for something a short distance away. I'll give the dogwood a dollop of epsom salts and a bit of potassium and maybe a rusty nail or two to see if anything changes.

  3. I didn't mean potassium or magnesium was necessarily the problem, just that not all mineral deficiencies manifest as green veins on a yellowing leaf (though iron and magnesium often do show up that way): sometimes all you get is a yellow margin.

  4. Beats me...my intial thought was lack of water..?

  5. I've emailed the county agent with photos attached.

    This tree had no more, no less water than all the others and has more or less the same drainage as the others. Provenance for all is essentially the same. Maybe there's something in the soil underneath.

    Curiously, I gave a Philadelphus a good dollop of lime once and a dogwood seedling came up right in
    the middle of it and thrived. I'm starting to lean toward a calcium deficiency as I read but I am reluctuant to intentionally give dogwoods lime.

  6. Hope all is OK with your dogwood! Happy August :)

  7. I certainly don't know anything about dogwoods, but it doesn't look like what I would think a variegated leaf would look like. It is odd, though, that other dogwoods nearby are not affected. It is a bit pretty! I hope you find the answer.

  8. I don't know about dogwoods too, but sure it is nutrient deficiency. If those salts as mr_subjunctive wont work, try nitrogen or urea!

  9. Did you ever figure this out? Years later I have the exact same problem.

  10. I decided it was a deficiency of some kind. I mulched it heavily with good compost topped with a little pinestraw and gave it water. It cleared up and bloomed this past spring. The one opposite it that didn't look bad, died suddenly.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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