Leaf Scorch and the Winter Connection

Although the effects of leaf scorch are most apparent during the arid summer months, it may be quite surprising for some to learn that there is a leaf scorch connection to winter. Though its effects most often manifest themselves during summer, leaf scorch sometimes originates during the winter.

One winter trigger that later leads to leaf scorch effects during the warmer months is frozen ground. When temperatures cause the ground to freeze, a tree is unable to absorb water for distribution throughout its vascular system, essentially leading to dehydration. When the warmer spring and summer months arrive, the browning, and sometimes brittle, feature that is indicative of leaf scorch becomes apparent.

Similar to the above, yet another winter connection to the eventual effects of leaf scorch is related to watering during freezing temperatures. Although watering during the winter months is just as critical to the vitality of a tree as watering during the warmer months, incorrectly watering a tree during winter can be quite detrimental. Those who are conscientious of this fact should take great care to correctly water trees during the winter months. Timing is imperative!

For instance, it is critical to winter water on days when the air temperature surpasses freezing, as well as to choose a time early enough in the day so that the tree will have sufficient opportunity to absorb the water before freezing
temperatures set back in, typically at nightfall. Water that is not absorbed will freeze with the onset of sub-freezing temperatures, causing ice to form over the roots, thereby suffocating the tree. Unfortunately, any damage done as a result of insufficiently distributed oxygen may not be discovered until the warmer months arrive and the effects of leaf scorch become apparent.

Salts used to de-ice roadways and other thoroughfares may also lead to leaf scorch. Much like the salts used in fertilizer, the salts used in de-icing concoctions may contain a salt content higher than that of the soil of a surrounding tree. If this is the case, the roots of the tree may become scorched by the higher-concentrated salts. Paired with desiccation by the tree’s vascular system, so common during winter months, a tree may easily succumb to leaf scorch caused by attempts to de-ice, the effects of which, however, may not be visible until many months later.

Offering considerably less control toward maintaining a tree’s vitality is the onset of spring blooms followed by a subsequent cold snap. Such a situation not only typically kills these ill-timed blooms, but sometimes ruins any ensuing chances of additional blooms from the affected branches. If they remain bare with no further blooms as the warmer seasons progress, then an Austin tree trimming specialist should be contacted to prune (remove) the branches.

Adequate watering to prevent dehydration is also important. During the winter months, this should include a significant, monthly watering of the entire area containing the feeder roots. This area may extend outwardly from the base of the tree for a considerable distance.

The fact that the onset of leaf scorch could begin so far in advance of the visible effects is quite perplexing. Perhaps it helps to think of the effects of leaf scorch as a type of delayed reaction. If you have questions regarding how best to care for your landscaping trees during the winter months so as to avoid leaf scorch during the summer, an Austin tree care professional is an excellent source for both information and guidance.

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

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