Plant care in dry conditions is important as trees can become dehydrated during periods of drought and hot weather.
How do you know if your plants are dehydrated?
- Browning of foliage
- Wilting during the growing season
- Early dropping of leaves
- Attacks from insects and disease from a weakened plant
- Die-back in the tops of trees next season.
Long-Term Impact of Drought on Trees
Drought stress reduces stem growth as the lack of moisture in the soil limits the conversion of water into glucose. This shorter growing season affects the overall health and resilience of trees. One long-term effect is stem dieback, caused by the loss of fine feeder roots. The result is diebacks of twigs, branches, and thinning of the crown over extended periods of time, or multiple growing seasons with drought.
Drought can also make trees more susceptible to insect infestations, such as ambrosia beetles, black twig, flathead, and round head borers.
Drought also damages and kills tree roots, leading to weakened trees and increased susceptibility to secondary issues like root rots, cankers, wood rots, and sensitivity to pesticides and de-icing salts.
What can be done to help alleviate drought stress?
A few simple things can help in a pinch, but with your trees it involves many small things over a long period of time.
Tree disease control – keep then healthy!
1. Keep your plants healthy in dry times. A healthy plant is more likely to deal with stress better than an unhealthy plant. We often neglect to think about the most important part of a plant – the roots below ground. One of the best ways to help plants fend off drought stress and insects and diseases is to provide proper soil care. This is vital to having a thriving plant! This means proper aeration, fertilization, organic matter and adequate spacing between trees for maximum root growth. A soil test may need to be done to assess the soil nutrient needs.
2. Mulch. A natural layer of bark mulch will help hold water better and keep soil moist. Also, natural mulch will break down over time, adding organic material back into the soil.
3. Water. It is vital for newly planted trees or shrubs to get plenty of water. Dry conditions require daily watering of newly planted trees until their roots have been established, especially during dry conditions. Mature (established) trees should also be watered during dry conditions. The watering area should roughly cover the width of the crown of the tree, therefore the amount of water that they require, depends on the size of the tree.
Trees benefit from a deep watering – a higher volume, slower application rate, less frequent water interval (1 to 2 times a week) over a watering that is more frequent, has less volume, and is applied quickly.
For addtional information on plant care in dry conditions, visit the following websites: