Plant dormancy is a state of “sleep” or inactivity for plants and trees in the winter. This aspect of trees’ life cycle helps them survive the harsh winter weather, such as the freezing temperatures and frigid wind. Those who specialize in tree care in Wilmington, DE, are well versed in the subject of dormancy because often, trees must be pruned or inspected during winter dormancy for best results.
You might be surprised to learn that some activity does occur during the colder months. Processes such as plant growth are typically slowed down, so plants require less nutrients and water to survive. Root growth and some other internal processes still take place.
Preparing for Dormancy
Dormancy occurs when trees begin receiving less light and experience temperature drops. These changes in environmental conditions allow trees to “know” that winter is coming and begin to prepare. Trees take their remaining nutrients and begin to seal themselves off from their leaves before dropping them in the fall. Leaves in certain plant species (such as deciduous trees) fall due to plant hormones producing chemicals that signal the leaves to break off. These hormonal chemicals also prevent cell division and cause trees to stop growing.
This process allows the tree to conserve energy and lowers its need for water and nutrients. Mulching in the fall helps insulate a tree and reduce moisture loss during winter dormancy.
For most trees, this time of rest is the best time for pruning. Trees are less likely to be “shocked” by the activity and wounded limbs. Pruning also helps prevent potential dangers that weak or damaged branches pose, especially during strong winter winds. Any wounds from trimming and pruning will heal more quickly since the tree is expending no energy on new growth, so the tree will be less likely to become infected from disease or insects. In addition, since the ground is frozen, less trauma due to compaction occurs.
Inspection during winter and spring dormancy is a great idea because tree professionals can more easily see the tree structure and unobscured bark. Areas of decay or injury will be more easily recognized.
Evergreen trees experience dormancy as well but in a different way. Their needles become coated with a heavy waxy substance that prevents them from losing moisture. In addition, they have a chemical inside that helps them resist freezing.
As the winter nears its end, trees are exposed to warmer temperatures, even in short interludes, and they begin to have increased activity. Sometimes you will see budding and may worry about early blooming. However, trees are equipped to handle warming during these brief periods of time before the actual advent of summer. As days become longer and the air and ground begin to warm, trees are able to recognize that their growth period has arrived again.
Trust Stein Tree for Your Tree Care in Wilmington, DE
Stein Tree Service performs inspections, tree pruning or removal, pest treatment, and other tree care in Wilmington, DE area and Pennsylvania. Our certified arborists and tree care specialists take great care to make sure your trees thrive after their dormancy. For information about our services or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today.