How Do Trees Survive Winter?

Below-freezing temperatures. Layers of snow and ice. Blustering winds. In Southeast Michigan, homeowners are accustomed to the harsh conditions of wintertime — and with the season just a few weeks away, many are in the midst of preparing for what’s ahead. In combination with tasks like cleaning out gutters and sealing pavement cracks, there’s also the need to give trees a little extra attention as well so they can weather the storm and emerge healthy once spring arrives.

While we’ll dig deeper into the manual efforts that support tree health throughout the winter, let’s start by first looking at the natural processes that help trees survive this season.

Trees Go Into a Dormant State In Winter

Whereas birds and other animals can migrate south to avoid winter conditions, trees are rooted in the ground and therefore must adapt to their new normal. This is why trees enter dormancy — or in simpler terms, a state of rest. During this time, the metabolic and growth activities of trees slows down, leaving more nutrients in plant roots versus sending them up to the leaves. This extra stored energy helps trees withstand winter conditions and stay healthy and strong.

One of the early signs of tree dormancy is a sight we’re familiar with in the fall: trees lose their leaves. This is an active sign of plants trying to conserve resources. Rather than work to protect fragile leaves throughout the winter season, trees simply shed them so they can hold onto more water and energy.

(In terms of tree types, deciduous trees are the ones that lose their leaves. Coniferous trees only grow needles and cones, so there are no leaves to shed — just old needles that are replaced by new ones.)

Supplying Trees with Added Nutrients for the Winter

While trees do their part to preserve nutrients for the winter, a deep root fall fertilization helps supplement what’s naturally available. In this technique, nutrients are injected directly into the area where trees need them most: the root zone. With nutrients immediately available to trees, deep root feedings provide an efficient way to prepare these plants for the winter months ahead.

In the case of evergreen trees, a fall anti-desiccant spray can also be beneficial. When temperatures drop and the ground freezes, plants can no longer absorb water from the soil. So instead, evergreen trees will turn to water stored in their leaves for moisture. If this source is depleted, the plant can dry out, or desiccate. By adding a protective coating to the leaves of evergreen trees, anti-desiccant sprays minimize water loss through pores and retain moisture.

Turn to Lush Lawn & Safari Tree for Your Tree Health Care Needs

At Lush Lawn & Safari Tree, we’re in the business of providing year-round tree health services for Southeast Michigan homeowners. Spread across the spring, summer and fall, our well-timed applications combine dormant oil treatments, deep root feedings, insecticide and fungal sprays and anti-desiccant sprays to help trees flourish throughout every season.

Take a closer look at our tree healthcare program — and if you’re ready to invest, contact us for a free quote!

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