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.

Crab Apple Trees Flowering in November?

You may have noticed that certain varieties of Crab Apple trees are displaying some  minor flowering right now. The below photo was taken October 31st.

The months of September and October were abnormally warm. This warm weather will confuse many flowering trees and shrubs.

Flower buds for the following year always form during the prior season. Ordinarily these buds sit closed on the tree throughout the Fall and Winter waiting on Spring. However, if the Fall season is unseasonably warm and those buds receive above average warmth for an extended period of time, a second flowering can occur.

What this means is that these trees will not flower as fully next Spring and in some rare cases, may not flower at all depending on the variety of tree involved. Even though you may not be seeing this second flowering occurring on your tree at the present time, that does not mean that your tree might not be affected next year.

Even if flower buds fail to open as those shown in the photo, they may have swelled beyond the point that they normally would. If that is the case, it is possible that Winter’s cold temperatures and winds might burn the swollen buds that are not as dense, compact and insulated as they normally would be. Should this occur, the buds will sustain damage and not open next Spring. Only time will tell.

On a better note, we have been driving past clients homes this Fall checking on our fungal treated Crab Apple trees and we hope you are as happy with their condition as we are. We promised our new treatment products for 2017 would produce tremendous results and they obviously have! We are seeing Crabs that are still fully leafed!

Have a wonderful Fall and upcoming Holiday Season.