Struggling Pink Dogwood that won’t flower

Q: I just planted a dogwood tree last fall. This spring it grew nice leaves, but didn’t flower. During our last heat spell (I live in northern Nevada) the leaves wilted. I made sure to water it well, but the leaves got worse and have since died.

The tree gets mostly shade. It’s mulched with bark and is on the top of a hilly lawn. The bark on the trunk is now peeling. Under the bark, the tree is still green, so it is still alive. I don’t see any signs of bugs or fungus.

What could be the problem?

There are several possible answers to this problem.

I am assuming the plant is a ‘Pink Dogwood’ (Cornus florida cv.). In your zone, the ‘Pink Dogwood’ is at its limit in terms of hardiness (USDA zone 5 or 6).

The plant could also be suffering from transplant shock, which is typical in ball-and-burlap plants. The symptoms of transplant shock would not appear until the following summer, so this could be the case.

Peeling bark may be due to the heat from the sun during the winter, compounded by planting on a hilly slope. These factors may have dried out the root ball a bit.

By nature, the pink dogwood prefers to live by the edge of a forest where it is somewhat sheltered and shade and, once established, has well-drained, moist soil.