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Drought-Stressed Trees: Know the Symptons & How to Mitigate Threats

Posted by Carpenter Costin

Oct 14, 2016 9:28:07 AM

As the long dry summer turns into a severe drought, our trees and shrubs are becoming more and more stressed, damaged, and even killed. Most all deciduous trees are suffering, but Cherry, Purple Leaf Plum, Katsuras, and Dogwoods have been especially stressed.

Here are some symptoms of severely drought-stressed trees:

  • Scorched leaves
  • Wilted foliage
  • Early leaf drop
  • Fall color that is way too early
  • Small fruit production
  • Increased ant population
  • Vascular diseases due to low hydration
  • Browning of leaves and needles
  • Poor root growth

Long Term Drought Symptoms

Your plants will show both short term and long term effects. Some trees may not show any symptoms for 3-4 years.  Here are some changes you will see over the next few years:

  • Stunted growth that may last for several seasons
  • Branch die-back
  • Sparse canopy, off color and undersized leaves
  • Increased insect/disease activity
  • Increase undesirable sucker growth
  • Dead trees and shrubs

Here's how you can help improve the health of your drought-stressed trees and shrubs:

Deep root, liquid fertilization: This process injects water with fertilizer into the root zone of the tree. This not only gives the plants a really good watering, it also gives it nutrients that will boost their reserves and increase vigor.

Soil conditioners/root growth enhancers: By stimulating microbial activity in the soil the tree will have more nutrients readily available, enhancing the natural process of soil science.

Treat shrubs such as Rhododendrons and Hollies: Plants that keep their leaves all winter should be treated with antitranspirant (wilt-proofing). This is a waxy material that will help keep the plant’s leaves from drying out in winter winds.

Water trees and shrubs thoroughly: Be sure to continuing watering this fall all the way up until the ground freezes.

Drought like conditions can do a number on your landscape, and drought-stressed trees can pose a serious safety risk on your property. Please be sure to have an Arborist inspect your trees for health and safety if you notice any of the above symptoms. Click below or give us a call to schedule a free evaluation.

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Topics: tree care