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Dogwood Shedding Branch Bark

 
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My poor dogwood is shedding some of the bark off if it's branches and I am not sure what is the best solution. I have a very small lot in Philadelphia and the conditions can be rather hot in the summer as most of my neighbors yards are paved.
Last year one of the branches broke off in a storm and the whole branch lost most of its bark, in addition, several of the pruning cuts I had made in the past started to peel close to the area I cut as well.
The tree bloomed and is now leafing and most looks good except for the dead branches. I am afraid to cut it and worried I am further hurting it. Could the peeling bark spread to the trunk? Currently the trunk still seems in good shape.  Any tips?
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master steward
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Hi, Susan   Welcome to permies.

I have not grown dogwoods.  They are pretty.

Maybe someone with some experience with trees will reply.
 
pioneer
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I don't have direct experience with a dogwood like that - ours are smaller shrubs, which are cut back every other year and sprout vigorously.

What I can say is that those diseased/damaged branches should be cut right back. They won't recover, and the risk is that the disease will spread back into the main tree. There is fortunately plenty of evidence of new leaf buds on the other branches, which will quickly grow back in.

In general, to get a denser and more complete canopy in your tree, some pruning will help. If you were to cut the branches back by about 1/3rd it will stimulate more of branches to form and likely give you a better shape in following years. It is looking a little spindly in the top at the moment - those tips will keep shooting up, leaving rather big gaps in the middle. I would personally be taking the secateurs to it as soon as the flowers have passed.
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Susan Fox
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Thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it.
 
gardener
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Hey Susan, definitely prune off that branch with the peeling bark like Michael recommended. That branch is sick, and may be already dead. If you look closely at the bark where that branch (or any branch for that matter) where it meets the trunk you'll see the bark texture/appearance change, and this is what's called the collar. I've attached a few photo's & images below to help explain. Prune directly in front of the collar on the branch, and the bark will grow around the wound and over the years the tree will heal.



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Susan Fox
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Thank you for the guide photos. We have been getting tons of rain this week, thinking will wait till it dries out a bit and then start pruning.
Do you think the other bark-damaged branches need to go? They still have healthy leaves on most of them.
 
James Freyr
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Yes, I would prune all the branches that have peeling bark, even if they have some green leaf further down the branch past the damage. It's often only a matter of time before that branch succumbs to the damage. To me, one of your photos looks like this branch damage started as a canker that has spread. The tree will respond to the pruning with new growth, and in a few short years be looking real good.

Think of tree bark like our skin. If it gets wounded, infection can set in. Bark is one of a trees first lines of defense from bacterial and viral pathogens that can cause illness and even eventually death in very bad cases.
 
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