Trees are a valuable asset to a landscape. Vigilance with regard to upkeep and maintenance ensure that they remain an asset. In order to sustain them, however, it is important to understand them. There are several stages of tree physiology, but perhaps one of the most relevant to understand is dormancy.

Dormancy is the process whereby a tree enters into an inactive state. This inactive state causes growth and development to slow or cease altogether. This is a natural survival mechanism, which allows a tree to survive adverse environmental conditions. In particular, these environmental conditions include the extreme temperature changes typically noted with the changing of autumn to the often frigid temperatures of winter. Although largely contingent upon geographic location, some purport that because of the often extreme change in temperatures from spring to summer, a dormant stage occurs during this time period, too, allowing trees to also survive extreme heat and any resulting drought conditions.

There are several factors that prompt dormancy, including plummeting temperatures, shortened days, and water supply.

Plummeting temperatures and shortened days routinely align with autumn (when trees begin to drop their leaves) and perhaps explain the general mindset that relates dormancy to the accompaniment of the onset of cold weather.

Likewise, a tree is innately prompted toward a dormant state when there is a decreased water supply. Since precipitation during the winter is frequently manifested in frozen form and water availability is, therefore, substantially decreased, a tree’s dormant state is a means by which survival is possible: If the availability of valuable water, necessary for viability, is limited, dormancy allows the tree to decrease its requirement for water. With this same concept in mind, certainly the insinuation of a dormant state during the summer months appears sensible. Extreme conditions are possible during the summer, too, and the innate will to survive remains, even if it is less frequently noted during a specific time. An Austin tree trimming specialist can address any questions regarding the widely accepted or disproved concept of dormancy during the summer months.

Other interesting facts about dormancy include the amount of time a tree remains dormant, which appears to be based on the species of tree and the geographic location. Some species require a longer period of dormancy than others. Consult an Austin tree removal professional with questions about trees specific to Austin and the amount of time each remains dormant. Additionally, if temperatures are unseasonably warmer than usual heading into autumn, then the onset of dormancy may be delayed. Conversely, preventative measures may be taken to help prolong dormancy. For example, covering a tree’s root system with mulch as a means to help winterize it may also extend the dormant stage.

Beneath the aesthetics of a landscaping tree lies a fascinating and relatively complex physiology. Understanding the overall functioning of a tree is a great first step to understanding how best to help it survive and thrive.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

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