How to Care for a Tree Before, During, and After a Deep Freeze
North Texas is in for some very cold weather.
Did you know? It is highly important to water your trees before deep freezes. Be sure to use a deep-watering method to water your trees within 24 to 48 hours of a deep freeze to protect their root systems.
It’s common for Winter damage or winter burn to occur during these longer-term freezing temperatures. Most often the damage is cosmetic, and the leaves drop off and be replaced with new growth in the spring. Sometimes pruning is necessary to remove brown, dead, or broken stems or branches. Although the damage may look bad, many tree species are quite resilient. With proper care, a healthy tree without irreparable damage will likely bounce back. Here are a few things you may see with your trees.
- Symptoms are most severe on evergreens such as Hollies, Magnolias and Live Oaks.
- Most damage will occur during winter, but most symptoms will be observed before spring as new growth appears.
Blighting or Browning of New Growth
- Warm temperatures in protected areas in February and March may stimulate buds, flowers, or shoots into growth too early.
- Subsequent cold weather and frosts will kill young buds and tender new growth resulting in fewer flowers and later leaf development.
- Frozen tissue damage frequently appears as blackened buds and leaves that may also drop off.
- Pruning out remaining bare branches will help stimulate new growth later in the spring.
Branch Dieback and Leaf Yellowing
- These symptoms occur from sunscald, frost cracks, root damage, and cold weather following a warm spell.
- Frost cracks can occur during the winter on exposed bark, usually on the west side of a trunk or limb, where warming and subsequent rapid cooling causes expansion and contraction of tissues resulting in cracks.
Ice and Snow Damage
- Symptoms include bent or broken branches from the heavyweight of the ice or snow.
- Heavy snow can be gently knocked from branches but iced-over branches may actually be more brittle and suffer further damage if removal is attempted.
- Wind during ice storms will cause the most damage.
- You can clear ice and snow from small trees and shrubs if you can reach them from the ground. Use a broom to gently knock off snow and ice. If it doesn’t come off easily, leave it alone. Please don’t whack the branches when they’re brittle with the winter cold.
Winter Color of Evergreens
- Symptoms of “winter color” can include gray, yellow, brown, and bronze leaves or needles.
- Causes of ‘winter color’ can include low temperatures and drought stress. Often, the foliage colors will revert back to normal when springtime temperatures return to normal.
What NOT to do After a Snow & Ice Storm:
- Don’t go near a tree that is in contact with utility lines, and don’t attempt to remove the tree yourself. Ice is dangerous! Electricity passes through it, people of all ages and physical conditions slip and fall on it, and only trained professionals should use power tools when it’s icy.
- Don’t stand under a snow- and ice-loaded tree, even if you have a hard hat. A lot of emergency room visits are caused by underestimating risk. Let the snow and ice melt naturally and watch from a safe distance.
- Don’t shake branches to get snow and ice off. Falling snow and particularly falling ice are unpredictable and heavier than you think.