Get Your Trees Ready for the Polar Coaster

Although we are just barely at the tail end of Summer, we’re already being reminded of snowier and colder days ahead. According to the experts, the Great Lakes Region is in for a wild ride this Winter! One meteorologist dared to call it a ‘Polar Coaster’ indicating a wild ride of temperature extremes.

Last Winter, many of you lost Boxwoods, Japanese Maples, Burning Bushes and Dogwoods. Unfortunately, we could go on. It seems like everyone’s property we visited this year lost at least a tree or line of shrubs due to last Winter’s polar vortex. All of that devastation was due to a single, three-day period where the temperatures dipped to a staggering 20-30º below zero with wind chills as low as 40-50º below zero. If it happens again in back to back years, especially with temperatures bouncing between extreme highs and lows which is even more consequential, trees that were stressed last Winter and showed only slight damage in 2019 may ultimately succumb this Winter. Trees you may not even realize are stressed right now may suffer noticeable damage in 2020, or worse.

Trees suffering from ‘Fire Blight’ (small dead leaves and limbs on Pear, Crabs and other varieties) or Botryosphaeria Canker (individual larger dead limbs with curling bark on many varieties of trees), both prevalent, do not need the added stress of a harsh winter.

A high percentage of our clients have their trees professionally fertilized in the Fall. Many have this service performed both Spring and Fall but feeding once a year is crucial in our opinion. Proper fertilization prepares trees for a harsh Winter as well as the following growing season. We perform this service with high pressure, underground feeding probes which delivers twenty-two (22) beneficial minerals, nutrients and amino acids to tree roots for your most valuable trees to make them as strong as possible. Your trees will thank you for it.

If you are already feeding your trees you are doing the best possible thing you can do for them. If not, you might want to consider having us quote root fertilization, at the very least for trees that are of extreme value to your property.

Have a great Fall and enjoy it while it lasts!

WINTER INJURY

We are seeing a number of different types of trees and shrubs that have apparently suffered damage or died over the Winter. It seems that the most affected are those shrubs that retain their leaves over the winter such as Boxwoods, Euonymus, Holly, Azaleas and Rhododendron. But some plants seem to have just up and died. Japanese Maples seem to be particularly hard hit as well.

boxwood winter injuryThe Boxwoods shown in the photo are an ‘extreme’ example. These shrubs should be fairly dark green in color. The red arrow points to the color these shrubs should be. These Boxwoods will not recover and will need to be removed and replaced.

While any winter can be stressful to certain trees and shrubs, this past winter was particularly devastating with its 30 to 60° below zero wind chills. This is why we tell folks to water trees and shrubs going into December if we experience a dry Fall. It is important to fully hydrate plants prior to ground freeze to limit possible damage.  At the very least, we recommend not planting Boxwoods. They seem to suffer damage far more frequently than any other plant.

Note…Any time you see winter damage on plants, don’t be hasty and remove them. Hand snipping will remove whatever browning exists and then wait to see what new growth appears in Spring and early Summer. If the damage is minor and the plant is still aesthetically pleasing to you, you won’t need to remove it.

On a separate note, we are also telling folks to avoid planting any Spruce trees because of the growing Rhizosphaera Needle Cast situation which we mentioned several times last season. If you need evergreen or pine type recommendations, we suggest planting Hemlocks and White Pine in more shady areas and Concolor Fir, Vanderwolf and/or White Fir in more sunny areas. Avoid Blue Spruce or Colorado Green Spruce.

Trees that retain their leaves all winter

Every year we receive several calls from clients asking why their Oak, Hornbeam or Beech trees retain their dried-out leaves over the winter. These dried out leaves are referred to as ‘marcescent’ leaves. There are varying opinions as to why this occurs.

Here is what happens.  Early cold Fall weather or frost seems to encourage some trees to hold onto their dried-out Fall leaves. For some trees, especially certain Oaks, clients mention that a particular tree seems to experience this every year.

For most trees, cells release enzymes that unglue the leaf from the tree in the Fall allowing them to fall to the ground. But early cold or frost can interfere with the process on these previously mentioned varieties of trees. Marcescent leaves are more common on smaller trees or on the lower branches of larger trees.

Some believe that this process occurs with trees that are lacking proper nutrients. But we at Tree Green do not believe this to be the case. Why? Because we have clients whose trees we have been feeding every year for 20 to 35 years still experience this situation. We know that there is no possibility that these trees are lacking nutrients when you consider the suspension of rich minerals, nutrients and amino acids that our root fertilization process provides.

When the new tree buds form and begin to swell in the Spring, they will push off last seasons dried leaves as you have experienced in the past.  Until that process occurs don’t worry about your tree at all. Just enjoy those rustling brown leaves that seem to be ‘waving’ to us throughout the Winter.