While our friends on the northeast coast are used to bundling up in the winter, the recent cold front has caught everyone off guard. Americas well acquainted with colder temperatures stayed bundled in their homes as schools and offices closed for “cold days.” Those of us in the South layered our lightweight winter shirts, stocked up on nonperishable food, and worried about our winter perennials. Trees are the hardiest plant in our winter landscape, but they still require protection from rapid temperature fluctuations.
Trees that thrive in southern hardiness zones are more resistant to drought than cold. Newly planted trees, fruit trees, ornamentals, and some deciduous trees with light colored bark may be susceptible to cold weather. Unexpected changes in bark temperature may trick your tree into a false spring, causing sunscald and other disease when the temperatures drop. Cold weather also increases the risk of drought, which may lead to desiccation in leaves and pine needles. Wrap tender trees in burlap or plastic for the winter. After the ground thaws, make sure your trees receive several inches of water each week to prevent dehydration and disease.
Cold weather increases the likelihood of tree injury. Sudden freezes may weaken limbs and winter winds often crack branches and damage bark. Check your winter trees regularly, examining joints for weakness and watching for cracks. Unless a tree injury presents a safety hazard, do not immediately prune the damaged branch. Pruning a tree when it is experiencing temperature fluctuations may shock the plant, further weakening your tree. By following the appropriate steps, skilled landscapers can often restore injured trees to full health.
For more cold weather tree care tips, call 3am Growers.