How to Know if a Bush Is Dead

Written by dawn gibbs
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Know if a Bush Is Dead
Dead bushes are brown throughout the branches. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A bush in the yard can appear dead when it has just gone dormant for the winter season. The foliage on the bush dies back, and the branches can look lifeless. A dormant bush also has no blooms. To tell if a bush is actually dead, you will need to examine the inside of the branches and trunk. A small nick in the surface of these parts of the plant will give you signs that the plant is alive or dead.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Knife

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Scratch one of the outer branches with a sharp knife. Scratch off the bark or outer brown layer of the plant. If it is green underneath, the bush is still alive.

  2. 2

    Scratch off a piece of bark or the outer brown layer on the trunk of the bush, near the soil line, rather than on a branch. Branches could be dead and the main trunk still be alive. If the area under the scratch on the trunk is brown, the plant is dead.

  3. 3

    Leave the bush alone until spring. If it is still alive, it will produce healthy buds on the branches. If you see no buds by summer, the plant is dead.

Tips and warnings

  • If your bush is in a container, you can also dig it up with a hand spade and check the roots. If the roots are brown, or break when you touch them, they are dead.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.