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Helping heat stressed trees

Trees are suffering and need our help! But be careful, improper care can lead to more damage (for example, now is NOT the time to fertilize)!

During the last few days we have experienced record breaking temperatures and it should come as no surprise that this heat is damaging our gardens and shrubs, but don’t forget about our trees. Trees are perhaps the most important part of our ecosystem, they contribute to our environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife.

During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe; this process can be significantly stunted or stopped completely during times of stress.

When daytime temperatures consistently reach above 90 to 95 degrees, biological functions in the tree begin to slow down. This allows the tree to conserve moisture by cutting back on transpiration, essentially putting the tree into a sort of dormancy where it exhibits even more signs of stress.

Similar to humans, trees also sweat out water. The process of evapotranspiration (the return of moisture to the air through both evaporation from the soil and transpiration by plants) is how trees transport water through their roots, trunks, branches and eventually out of their leaves. This process brings nutrients and water to all parts of the tree, and essentially allows the tree to breathe.

Heat stress from sub-lethal temperatures is important to remember and keep an eye on because it can kill trees directly, or at best make them more vulnerable to additional stress agents. In fact, trees can experience heat stress that not only makes them look bad, but also makes them more susceptible to insect and disease problems. Heat stressed trees are less able to heal or fight off secondary issues because the tree is using all of its energy just to stay alive.

Watering in the heat of the day shouldn't hurt the plants -- it actually cools them off -- but it's a far less efficient use of water as much of it will evaporate before reaching the roots. Avoid getting plants wet late in the day, unless it's the only possible time you can water them. Slow, deep watering is best.

We recommend everyone get their trees vertical mulched or at the very least have them soil drenched with added soil supplements, mycorrhizae and trichoderma. With the proper knowledge and appropriate care, our trees can not only weather this heat, but thrive in it.

If you're concerned about your trees, please give us a call for a free overall health evaluation today!

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