Temperatures are falling, colors are changing, holidays are passing, and winter is approaching. Before you hunker down and settle in for the season, you should consider how to keep safe trees. While nature has built in some organic winterizing processes, there are also steps you can take to winterize trees to protect them from pests and ensure beautiful, green springtime trees.
Because every part of the tree plays an important role, you’ll want to winterize trees in each section, from the bottom soil all the way up to branches. Here’s how to ensure you have safe trees for spring. You may be wondering about specific plant winterization and we will explain those at the bottom of the post. How to winterize hostas, how to prepare banana trees for winter, fig tree winterizing, and how to prune hydrangeas for the cold.
Start the winterizing process by caring for the soil, which trees rely on for nutrients and water. Winter conditions, like cold ground temperatures and frosty mornings, make it more difficult for trees to get the nutrients that they need. As such, mulch and fertilizer are keys to safe trees. While fertilizer helps bring the soil to optimal nutrient-dense levels, mulch acts as a protective agent. When you spread a layer of mulch around the base to winterize trees, you help protect the soil from harsh conditions and therefore make it easier for the tree to absorb the water it needs for photosynthesis and other processes. The combination of fertilizer and mulch promotes root development and helps the trees endure winter. Bonus: mulching around the trees means you’ll need to weed less when spring does arrive! Also, remember that safe trees are hydrated trees, and water them as necessary when you experience dry spells in your region (yes, even in the winter!).
The trunk is the transportation hub of the tree; it carries water and nutrients up to the branches and leaves. So, when you winterize trees, you don’t want to skip the trunk! The largest threat to the trunk comes from insects and pests who want to settle in and find a safe hiding spot from the cold. You can use sprays, oils, taste repellents, or a combination of these for pest-free, safe trees.
Pruning is essential when you winterize trees. You must remove dead, diseased, and overlapping wood while also pruning the trees to be structurally correct. Ensuring that trees are properly pruned helps them get maximum exposure to the sun’s rays, which are in shorter supply during winter when daylight hours are shorter. While this may seem tedious, pruning not only helps protect the tree and prevent future damage, but it also encourages new growth. You should consult with a professional to help ensure your pruning lends to safe trees, as there are certain methods and cutting patterns that only trained arborists know. We do have another blog post about Pruning a Tree that will give you some useful information.
Taking the time and putting in the effort to winterize trees will yield great payoffs not just for you, but also for the environment, thanks to the air purification that they offer. If you want to know more about safe trees or the winterization process, contact us here.
You can also check out our blog post on Frost and Cold Protection!
Hostas: after frost has nipped the hosta leaves you can cut it at the base of the plant and mulch the plant heavily with a protective layer of organic material until spring when the new growth will appear
Bananas: the roots of banana plants are frost hardy and protected by the heat of the soil it’s in. The stalks will die back once a hard frost hits but do not prune until last frost is over! Pruning will encourage new growth that will not make it over the cold winter temperatures. If you must prune because they are mushy or unsightly, be sure to cut back all the way to the ground or about a foot above. Mulch heavily until new growth appears in spring.
Figs: Some figs (Celeste and Brown Turkey) are very cold hardy. Figs are deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter below 25 degrees. Not to worry though, they will regrow and sprout new ones when temperatures are right. Wrapping the tree with burlap might be a good idea if you live in a very cold area.
Hydrangeas: These bigleaf hydrangeas will lose their flower heads after the bloom period. Prune the stalks back because new flower buds only appear on new wood. Different types of hydrangeas are more cold hardy than others. Endless summer hydrangeas do not need to be pruned back.