Winter Protection for Evergreens, Trees, and Plants

With winter right around the corner, it’s time to take measures to protect some of your greatest garden investments. Ornamental shrubs, young shade trees, deciduous, and evergreens will need some help to make it through harsh winter weather.

Winter yard with evergreens and deciduous trees and shrubs

Heavy snow and accumulated ice can break limbs and branches or even topple a tree all together. Evergreens can suffer bleaching from cold temperatures, winter sun and wind, and further damage can be caused to the roots, bark, and branches can be injured or killed.

As food sources become sparse in the coldest months, deer and rodents will seek out bark, foliage, buds, and twigs. If left unattended, this foraging can severely injure and possibly kill your trees, shrubs, and plants.

Don’t give up! There is hope. The following will help you lend a hand to your garden and landscape occupants throughout the harshest weather this winter may bring.

Protecting and Hydrating Tree, Plant and Shrub Roots

That’s right, it all starts with the roots. In the fall, right up to the first freeze, there are two steps you can take to ensure proper hydration and root protection. Understand that soil temperatures drop much more slowly than air temperature and that roots of most trees will begin to die if the soil reaches temperatures below 10°F.

Fall Watering – Evergreens, newly planted trees and woody plants need to be watered frequently during the fall (especially during a dry fall season). During a deep freeze (when the ground freezes) roots can no longer absorb moisture from the soil and become dependent on what they’ve stored in the fall.

Deciduous and evergreen tree and shrub watering in fall

NOTE: The primary cause of winter damage to evergreens is from dehydration. Evergreens don’t lose their foliage in the winter and will continue to transpire. If they haven’t stored sufficient water, they may suffer burning or browning of the foliage.

Thick Mulching – As previously mentioned, soil temperatures below 10°F can cause severe damage and kill the roots of most trees. While it may seem counterintuitive, moist soil is able to hold more heat than dry soil. In order to maximize root growth in the fall and minimize winter root injury, a 3 to 6 inch layer of wood chips or organic mulch should be used around your trees, plants, and shrubs.

NOTE: If you live in an area where the temperature remains at or below freezing for extended periods of time, you should mulch your trees, shrubs, and plants with 6 to 8 inches.

Visit thetreecareguide.com/how-trees-survive-winter-months/ to understand how trees survive the winter months so you can better aid them.

Severe Cold Weather Damage and Your Hardiness Zone

The health and longevity of your landscape begins with the selection of trees, shrubs, and plants appropriate for your hardiness zone. Unless kept in and protected by a microclimate, plant life that is not hardy in your hardiness zone may be severely damaged or killed during the winter months.

Your plant life sustains the most damage when pronounced temperature fluctuations occur during the fall, winter, and spring. Prolonged low temperatures in early fall and late spring will potentially cause the greatest damage, as well as “tripping up” the dormancy or “awakening periods for deciduous trees, shrubs, and plants. This damage may occur regardless of the hardiness zone location, but plant life that thrives in your zone will have a better chance at recovery.

Visit http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ to find out which hardiness zone you are located inside.

Avoid Tree and Shrub Damage from Snow and Ice Storms

Ice and snow accumulation can get heavy enough to bend and eventually break both deciduous and evergreen branches. Evergreens like junipers and multiple leader (clump trees) like birch are highly susceptible to this type of damage.

Snow and ice accumulation on deciduous tree branches

NOTE: The proper pruning and trimming of your trees and shrubs (to eliminate multiple leaders and weak branches) will help to avoid damage caused by snow and ice accumulation.

Tying leaders together, cabling larger trees, or wrapping smaller trees is an option. Seek assistance from a tree professional, the improper application of these alternatives can cause more harm than good. These ties, wraps, and cablings must be removed in the spring to avoid girdling and return free movement to the stems and branches.

Prevent Deer, Rabbits, and Rodents from Feeding on Your Trees

Deer, rabbits, and rodents will begin to feed on foliage, twigs, and bark as their normal food sources become unattainable in the winter months. The foraging of these animals poses a great threat to the health and life of your trees, shrubs, and plants. Here are some simple solutions like trunk wrapping to keep your landscape safe from these critters and their appetites:

Wrapped deciduous fruit tree trunks in winter

Plastic Tree Guards – Putting plastic tree guards around the bottom of your trees (especially young or newly planted trees) will keep rabbits and mice from feasting on them. If you live in areas which accumulate snow, the guards should be well above the snow line. Otherwise, your efforts will be in vain.

NOTE: Once spring arrives, remove the guards. They can cause the trapping of moisture in the bark, attracting insects and possible infestation issues.

Chicken Wire Barriers – This is the best solution for rabbits. Erecting chicken wire fences/cages around your trees, shrubs, and plants will keep them out of harm’s way.

NOTE: This is a solution which can be employed at any time of the year and kept in place until the rabbit issue is properly dealt with.

Deer and Pest Repellent Spray – Applying a repellant spray to the trunks, branches, and stems of your trees is a great option, especially if you have numerous trees on your property. Repellant sprays are easy to come by at nurseries and home supply stores that have a gardening department.

NOTE: Rain will wash away most repellents. If you are experiencing a wet season in your geographic location, you will need to reapply the repellant after heavy rain storms.

Trunk Wrapping for Deer Prevention – Deer love to rub their antlers on tree trunks. That said, if you live in an area where deer graze, it is a prudent idea to wrap your most vulnerable tree trunks. Take a look at the following video for a smart and inexpensive way to wrap your tree trunks.

Is Tree Wrapping Necessary?

No – If you have chosen evergreens according to your location on the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, and they’ve had time to establish their root systems, the answer is no.

Yes – For newly planted evergreens and those that are prone to dehydration and winter-burn, the answer is yes. They should be wrapped for the winter season.

NOTE: As mentioned above, dehydration occurs in evergreens because the never stop transpiring throughout the winter. Thus, if they haven’t stored enough water in the fall (or are unable to attain sufficient water in the winter), your evergreens will most likely suffer winter-burn.

For more on tree wraps, visit extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/protecting-from-winter-damage/

Save Evergreens, Trees, and Shrubs with Preparation and Common Sense

Knowing your location on the hardiness zone map and planting accordingly is the beginning to a successful landscape. Using common sense throughout the year by properly pruning, trimming, protecting, and watering your plants, shrubs, trees, and evergreens will keep them alive and vibrant for many years.

Every winter provides a different set of challenges and every plant responds differently to those stressors. While plants, shrubs, and trees are remarkable in their ability to adapt, they often need your assistance to avoid severe damage, illness, and infestations. Consulting a local tree professional will help you decide which methods to employ to keep your landscape alive and healthy on the other side of the coldest months of the year.

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/winter-protection-evergreens-trees-plants/

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Trees Silently Communicate Below the Surface

Until working closely with trees, one might assume that a tree’s root system only draws moisture and nutrients for that tree. Another popular assumption is that root systems compete for space, water, and nutrients. While some of that is partly true, trees are – in fact – communicating with each other, helping each other and collaborating with other species.

Park bench among trees shrubs and grass

Before reading on, consider this: The next time you are sitting on a park bench, look around at the trees, shrubs, and plants. Know that they are not independent entities fighting for survival, space, and nutrients. Underground, they are connected and exchanging nutrients and information. They are helping each other to survive and more incredibly, they are talking to each other.

This may sound like something out of the blockbuster movie “Avatar” but, there is empirical data that fully substantiates the transfer of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, water, allele chemicals, hormones, and defense signals from one tree to another using a mycorrhizal network.

The Mycorrhizal Network is Made of Roots and Mycelia

Mycelia are defined as the interconnecting fibers from fungi root systems. Mycelium grows and expands, connecting itself and colonizing the root systems of trees, plants and shrubs creating a mycorrhizal network. The growth of mycelium in these networks reaches such a density that it is possible to have hundreds of kilometers of fiber under a single footstep.

This network connects all of the individual trees by their root systems in an ecosystem, trees not only of the same species but between species. Evidence of the presence of mycelia is its reproductive organs – mushrooms rocketing up through the ground.

NOTE: The benefits of this association are plentiful. One noteworthy benefit is that through this association, the roots will feed the mycelia in the form of carbohydrates. In return, the mycelia assist the roots in absorbing phosphorus, nitrates, and more importantly water.

Mycelia Promote Plant, Shrub, and Tree Growth and Health

This living network transmits signals from one tree to another and is able to assist those trees in the transferring of water, chemicals, and nutrients between them.

First Contact – When mycelia contact and colonize a root system, the tree, plant, or shrub first reacts by activating its chemical defense systems. This act alone serves to “prime” (to quicken and make more efficient) its immune system responses. Plants, shrubs, and trees become more resistant to disease by simply connecting to “the network”.

Trees Communicate & Exchange with Each Other – In a biodiverse ecosystem with evergreen and deciduous species, the trees will have very different needs throughout the seasons. Using the mycorrhizal network, trees communicate with each other and help each other obtain sufficient nutrients when they are unable to do it on their own.

A Network Alarm System – Mycorrhizae networks colonize and interconnect not only tree root systems, but those of plants and shrubs. Having such diversity gives this entangled network the ability to signal to all connected organisms when biological intruders (bacteria, aphids, etc.) are attacking. Nearby plants and trees are then able to employ their defense systems and ward off or minimize the effects of the intruder. Read this for more on pest prevention and treatment tips.

The Role of Ancient Trees – Ancient trees, known as mother trees, are repositories of information exchanged and accumulated over hundreds of years using the mycorrhizal network it is attached to. These trees are the ones that provide “an assist” to saplings by sending nutrients and defensive signals while it is at a disadvantage. In a forest, saplings race to grow in order to reach sunlight. With the help of mother trees and the mycorrhizal network, its chances of success are greatly increased.

NOTE: When trees are fatally wounded or are dying, they will “dump” their carbon into the mycorrhizal network. By doing this, the trees are sending their “information” to the community interconnected by the network. Along with this information are defense signals, inherently strengthening the connected community.

In November of 2014, Nic Fleming wrote “Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus” for BBC-Earth. In this article he discusses how mycelia interact with roots and form mycorrhizal associations.

Don’t Confuse These Mushrooms With Signs of a Troubled Tree

Mushrooms on the ground are a signal of mycelia in its reproductive state. Keep in mind that mycelia are contributing to the health of your ecosystem. Plants, shrubs and trees are all communicating and collaborating using this “natural internet”.

Mushroom indicating healthy and connected root systems

However, when mushrooms emerge and flourish on the trunk of a tree or on the base of a tree, it is time to call out a professional to examine that tree. This is one of the many signs of a troubled tree and it is a signal to take immediate action. Visit here to learn how to identify dangerous tree fungus and its warning signs.

Protecting Biodiversity, Mycelia and the Mycorrhizal Network

When planning a landscape, outdoor living space, urban forest, or yard, it is vital to the longevity of the plants, trees and shrubs that different species of each are introduced into the ecosystem. Just as important is the proper fertilization, watering, and mulching of the soil. Proper preparation of the soil allows the roots to thrive and permits the growth of mycelia, eventually creating a mycorrhizal network.

Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology, currently teaching at the University of British Columbia has been conducting research on this very subject for over three decades. Her findings are fundamentally changing how we look at trees and the role they play in each other’s existence. In her TED Talk from June of 2016, she presents her research and findings.

Later in September of 2016, Professor Simard sat down with Yale Environment 360 for a Q&A session titled How and Why Trees ‘Talk’ to Each Other.

Simard’s research has opened the door to a new way of thinking. We can no longer substantiate the thought that our trees, shrubs, and plants are independent beings fighting for space and nutrients. The empirical evidence that has been uncovered must be used to usher in a new way of practicing forestry, logging, and even landscaping.

Trees are connected to each other, which are in turn connected to the shrubs that are connected to the plants. Even over long distances, the communication is happening in an effort to keep the biodiverse ecosystem growing and thriving. All thanks to a fungal network.

Learn more about the fungi and biodiversity found in soil by visiting the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Soil Fungi page.

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/trees-silently-communicate-below-the-surface/

Saving a Tree Struck by Lightning

For some of you, the title of this article may seem far-fetched, but there are cases when a tree can remain and heal after lightning hits it. Rain and lightning storms occur frequently, and often trees are struck. Outlined below, we are going to detail what happens to the tree and the methods to sustain it following a lightning strike.

Tree struck by lightning during severe weather

What Happens When Lightning Strikes a Tree

The exact consequences on a tree after lightning strikes hinge on various things; for example, the tree’s species, the level of moisture within it, and the general health state of the tree the moment lightning strikes it.

Damage from lightning strikes is rapid. As soon as it happens, the tree’s internal liquids begin to evaporate and the bark of the tree gets shattered. Around 50% of the trees struck by a bolt of lighting die rapidly. The rest lose their integrity and become prone to health issues.

If the external wall of the bark is saturated from a high level of rainfall, the lightning will go around the tree and then to the soil with little injury as a result. In other cases, however, strong lightning strikes may tear the tree apart and set them on fire from its inside.

Recognizing Signs of a Lightning Struck Tree

The most prominent sign of lightning hit is the tearing apart of a bark and the surface peripheral split of the wood just below the lightning line. The lightning shock can make the tree bend and the wood loosen up or crack.

The most evident sign of lightning hit on a tree, apart from bark injury, are wilted leaves from damaged water pathways inside the roots or the stem. Irrevocably wilted leaves in a main tree branch or section are typically the first evident sign of lightning, in the case where the tree did not split or exploded.

In cases where the damage isn’t obvious, there are long-term symptoms that appear down the road. One of which is “recoverable foliage wilting”, which goes on/off for many months. In some cases its effects progressively worsen and can lead to twig death. The least evident sign is a slow-paced deterioration of a tree or its branch/es within 3 years, and pest infestations that block the tree’s new growth cycle.

Visit thetreecareguide.com/signs-that-you-need-to-remove-your-dying-damaged-tree/ for more signs to help in your decision as to whether you need to remove a tree.

Treating a Tree After a Lightning Strike

There are many incidents where the tree can make it through the strike, but it may suffer from disease and insect infestations later as the result of its shock. For more on treating insect related issues, see thetreecareguide.com/pest-prevention-treatment-tips/.

The right treatment can recover the tree provided the strike isn’t overly strong. Following the impact you must trim and remove any injured or cracked branches. Shaping and eliminating splintered wood promotes healing and allows the tree to compartmentalize its wound.

Likewise, fertilizer that has quick-release properties can be used to encourage new growth. A thorough inspection of oaks and hardwoods should be performed in anticipation of woodborers. Pines should also be checked for wood boring insects and beetles–if these show up, it’s best to spray the tree trunk with lindane (pesticide). Make sure you aim high when spraying (as high as possible) and then spray towards the trunk and the soil.

Fast Action Saves Trees After Lightning Strikes

Once lightning damage occurs, response time and immediate treatment is vital. The quicker you take action, the better chances the tree can heal and resolve the issue itself.

Lightning strike in clouds during severe weather

If the damage is mild and you begin treatment in less than 24 hours, you may avail treatment options like minimizing water loss, or specialized pressure techniques to reconnect the tissues. Speed is critical and increases options in your attempt to preserve a lightning struck tree.

If you still have concerns about what to do resolve to resolve any issue, it’s best to reach a tree expert to help you assess the damage or in worse cases remove the irreparable tree.

For more information on lightning struck trees visit http://www.gfc.state.ga.us/community-forests/ask-the-arborist/LightningStruckTrees.pdf

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/saving-tree-struck-by-lightning/

Climbing Vines are Tree Killers

Tree trunk with climbing ivy vines

All vines will cause structural damage as they grow on trees. Vines literally glue themselves to the bark of a tree as they climb, that increased weight can potentially break branches. The vines capture more wind, snow and ice than what the tree is used to and capable of supporting, leading to a potential toppling of the tree.

Allowing Vines to Grow on Trees is Never a Good Idea

Many vines that begin covering the ground end up forming a thick “blanket” covering the root flare of a tree. When you add falling leaves and rain to this, you get a piled up layer against the root collar and trunk of the tree. Trapped moisture combined with decaying leaves raises the potential for fungal and bacterial diseases. The potential here is to end up with a diseased and dying tree with severe structural damage at its base.

Vines Hide Tree Hazards

One primary issue regarding vines on trees is that vines potentially hide structural damage or hazards like a canker or a decayed area of a branch or even the trunk. Over time, a canker or a decayed area will become a weak point in the tree causing a limb or even the trunk to break. This potential tree fall could ultimately result in great personal injury and property loss.

To learn other tree warning signs visit http://ift.tt/20rIWjD

Circling Vines Can Strangle Your Tree

Wisteria is one of many circling vines that tightly wrap themselves around tree trunks. These vines end up strangling or girdling a tree as it attempts to grow and expand. The varieties of vines that grow up the trunk without circling do not cause strangling or girdling.

Shading Robs Your Tree of Crucial Sunlight

Much more severe than girdling is shading. Both types of vines cause shading when their foliage overruns the tree’s foliage. As they grow, they compete for space and sunlight and since vines grow faster than trees, the outcome is bleak for the tree.

Once the tree’s foliage is overrun, the tree can no longer benefit from the photosynthesis process and is on its way to starvation and eventual death.

Is That Ivy on My Tree Dangerous?

It is important to understand that all climbing and circling vines pose an eminent threat to your tree. It is also worth stating that most people use “Ivy” as all inclusive for any vine climbing a tree. There are numerous species of vines which grow on trees and before handling them, it is imperative to know which species you are dealing with.

Some vine species can cause severe skin reactions after direct contact. It doesn’t stop there, if not treated properly, the adverse reaction can be spread from person to person by touch alone.

Below is a condensed list of the most threatening vines to trees and their environment.

Aggressive vines – These cause tree decline and eventual death.
Confederate jasmine
Yellow jessamine
English ivy
Ficus
Wisteria

Invasive or poisonous vines – These vines are a threat to the trees and their caretakers.
Air potato
Earleaf greenbrier
Poison ivy

To learn more about good and bad tree vines, visit http://ift.tt/2wj1tqN

Severing Vines from Their Roots

The goal is to kill vines without damaging the tree. This is accomplished by severing the vines around the base of the affected tree. By cutting (or sawing for more developed vines) the vines, will eventually wither and die.

Tree trunk with dead and decaying ivy vines

Do not try to pull the vines from the trunk or limbs of the tree. By doing so, you risk severely damaging or even removing the bark. The vines will wither, die, and what doesn’t fall off the tree will be absorbed.

Tip: Use gloves and protective clothing in order to avoid skin reactions from the vines.

Once the vines have been cut, pull the roots up. This is best accomplished when the surrounding soil is moist from watering or rainfall. Clear out a ring of about 2 feet all the way around the tree. Mulch this area with thick leaf or wood chip mulch, two inches thick, and keeping it three inches from the tree trunk.

Tree Killing Vines Must be Eliminated

Vines on older trees compete with its roots and robs them of moisture and nutrients. Healthy trees do not need the added visual of vines to make them look more refined or majestic. Vines growing on trees is a certain indication that the tree’s days are in fact numbered.

The principle danger proportioned by vines is the eventual risk of tree fall. If left untreated, the vines will debilitate and destroy the structure of a tree, leaving it completely defenseless to the continuous waves of the seasons.

If your tree is serving as host to vines and you need help getting them removed, your local tree professional will be able to assist you in safely killing the vines, preserving your tree, and eliminating future growth.

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The Difference Between Deciduous and Evergreen Trees

Depending on your landscape, you will most likely want to see a mixture of both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. Each displays starkly different characteristics and the care for them differs as well.

If you are asking “What’s the difference?” you are not alone. In this article, we will clearly define the two and take a look at the characteristics of both deciduous and evergreen species playing a part in your year-round landscape.

What Are Deciduous Trees

Simply put, a deciduous tree is one that loses all of its leaves in late fall , then grows new ones as it awakens from dormancy in early spring. In early fall, as the temperature drops, it is easy to spot deciduous trees. Their leaves begin to change colors and by the start of winter, have fallen to the ground.

There is an interesting aspect to this process. The fallen leaves form a sort of insulation around the tree keeping the roots warm during winter. Then, as the leaves decay, they provide nutrients to the soil and the tree, keeping it it healthy.

Some of the most highly sought after deciduous trees for parks, roadways and landscaping are Poplar, Aspen, Maple, and of course the Red Maple tree. Each species is beautiful in the spring and summer months, but as autumn sets in, the colorful display is awe inspiring. So much so, that people will travel hundreds of miles to witness the “changing of the leaves” in large stands of deciduous forests

Care: Pruning and trimming for these trees should take place after the tree has lost its leaves and has gone dormant. However, never prune or trim when the tree tissue is frozen. Find out more about how trees go dormant and survive the cold winter months http://ift.tt/2tSDLj8

What Are Evergreen Trees

The name says it all. Evergreen trees remain “green” throughout the seasons. While their counterparts (deciduous trees) lose all of their foliage in the fall, evergreens continuously regrow what they may lose.

As evergreens gradually replace their leaves or needles, the litter having a high carbon-nitrogen ratio creates an environment for the soil which becomes higher in acidity and lower in nitrogen. This, combined with year round shelter from existing evergreens creates optimal conditions for the growth of new evergreens.

Besides maintaining their foliage and color year round, evergreen trees are also known as privacy trees. The most sought after privacy tree in the US is the Leyland Cypress, while the American Holly Tree is the ideal evergreen for hedges. Other popular evergreens include Emerald Green Arborvitae, Juniper, and Italian Cypress trees. All of which contribute to a beautiful year round landscape.

Care: With the exception of pine trees, evergreen trees should be pruned or trimmed in early spring (before the start of new growth), or mid-summer when the trees enter a semi-dormant period. Broken, diseased, or dead branches can (and should) be removed when ever they are detected, regardless of the season. For warning signs see http://ift.tt/20rIWjD

Planting Trees With Purpose

Before purchasing a tree, it is important to understand the implications of the species. Particularly if it is deciduous or evergreen. If it is privacy for your home and yard, the obvious choice is an evergreen species. If you love the broadleaf fall spectacle of changing leaves (and raking them up), a deciduous species is perfect.

Calling on a tree service professional to evaluate your landscape and make location recommendations is always a good idea. Keep in mind that these professionals see trees at their best and at their worst. Their input and insight before planting will help you enjoy your trees for years to come. Take a look at these planting tips http://ift.tt/2tSDLQa

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3 Crucial Mulching Tips for Healthy Trees

To aid its development and protect your tree from adverse effects of extreme weather, mulching should be implemented. Not only does it insulate the soil at the base, but it also aids root growth and conserves moisture for the plant. It’s ability to reduce weeds and their roots, are an added benefit. As you can see there are varied benefits; with these simple to follow thetreecareguide.com mulching tips, you can grow healthy and long-lasting trees.

Apply Organic Mulch

Compost, leaves, tree bark, pine needles, and plant by-products are all used in organic mulch. Depending on the climate, materials, and soil composition, organic mulch decomposes at different rates.

It is the breaking down of these elements that improve the soil quality and nutrient source for trees. Naturally, the ones that decompose at a faster pace require you refresh and replenish them more often. However, the positive benefits of organic mulch far outweigh the frequency at which they require being replenished.

Abstain from Volcano Mulching

This ineffective approach is when mulch is piled against and around the base of the tree, whereas the shape resembles a “volcano”. It is inappropriate to place the matter around the trunk of the tree. The effects of Volcano mulching can be grave, as it promotes deterioration and is a great environment for pests and unwanted insects.

As a good point of reference, place the mulch starting 2-4 inches away from the trunk, and continue out slightly past the drip line.

Since the root system usually extends beyond the drip line, it’s okay and appropriate to cover the radius beyond the drip line with mulch as well. Essentially, mulch covers the roots and ground around the roots of trees.

Layering and Refreshing of Existing Mulch

Another potential mistake is having too much mulch, which is easy to do when you don’t when piling fresh mulch on top of old mulch.

You want no less than 4 inches of mulch in depth. Upon checking if there is sufficient mulch, then simply rake and refresh the pile. If there is insufficient mulch upon inspection, break up the existing matted mulch with a rake. Then lay new mulch over the old mulch and mix it with a rake.

Mulch Can Significantly Promote the Health of Your Trees

Strictly applied, mulching is helpful to trees. Do not let mulch rest on the shoot as you lay mulch 3-4 inches close to the drip line of the tree during closing. The mulch should be in the form of a flat ring donut with the shoot in the center. Most preferred over inorganic mulch (rocks, stones) is organic mulch (bark of hardwood and softwood, leaves, cocoa hulls, etc.)

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Managing Plant and Tree Aphid Infestation

The aphid is a dangerous plant pest. It can harm a plant slowly, and if the necessary curative measures are not taken, it can spread and start affecting other nearby plants and trees. They have the ability to drain the sap and destroy the flowers and stems of a plant. As aphids feed on plants, they can spread the virus to them, and they excrete honeydew, which causes the growth of sooty mold. This thetreecareguide.com article covers identifying aphids and solutions to deter them from inhabiting and damaging your trees and plants.

How To Identify Aphid Infestation

Aphids have different colors ranging from black, green, red, brown or yellow depending on their species. Their bodies are pear-shaped, and they can easily be identified with their long antenna and legs. Aphids can be distinguished from other insects by their cornicles, (two tube-like projections at the back of their body).

Some species secrete grayish or white substances from the surface of their body; hence they appear wooly or wax-like. A few species of aphids may have wings due to over-population or weather variations, but generally, the adults are wingless. Possession of wings creates an avenue for aphids to disperse to many locations in search of plants to destroy.

Bait to Keep Protective Ants Away From Aphids

Aphids and many ant species share a kind of symbiotic relationship. This is because when aphids feed on plants, they secrete honeydew, and ants feed on the honeydew. To maintain their supply of honeydew, the ants protect the aphids from destruction by predators.

To expose the aphids and make them vulnerable to predators such birds, you need to draw the ants away, for instance by baiting them with honey. When the ants move away from the castle where they protect the aphids, the aphids can then be destroyed by predators.

When you see ants climbing a tree infested with plants, you have to stop them from getting to the aphids by rubbing a sticky material on the tree, such that the material traps them and prevents them from going further up. However, you need to be careful not to put the material on the bark of a young or pruned plant, as it may be harmful to the plant. The best way to go about it is to wrap a fabric or duct tape around the tree bark and apply the sticky material on the tape or fabric.

Also, you can put baits in containers and drop them on the ground to distract insects or cut off some branches touching the ground, other trees or the roof of buildings.

Solutions to Control Aphids

Use of Soap and Water – Soaps are basic in nature and can be used in fighting aphids. To do this, you have to dissolve a small amount of soap in water and sprinkle the solution on the aphid infested plants. You also need to make sure that you sprinkle it on the back of leaves and other places smaller aphids and their eggs and larvae may be hiding. The soap dissolves the waxy substance on the body of the aphids and exposes them to dehydration and consequently, death. This way, you can fight aphids without affecting the plant itself.

Caution should be taken when using this method, because if the soap is applied indiscriminately, it may kill other beneficial species of insects, which can prey on aphids, such as ladybug, lacewings, and hoverflies, and killing of these predators make it easier for new sets of aphids to colonize the plant.

Insecticides – The best choice in fighting aphids is the use insecticidal soaps and petroleum-derived oils like canola oil and neem. They destroy the aphids by suffocating them. Hence it is necessary to apply them thoroughly on the affected areas. 1 to 2% solution of the oil is to be mixed with water and applied thoroughly, paying special attention to the top and underneath the leaves.

The product kills aphids that are present the moment they are sprayed, their toxicity does not persist, so it is necessary to repeat the application. Some natural enemies of aphids present at the time of spraying may also be killed, as their toxicity does not persist, hence natural enemies can migrate to the plant afterward.

Use of Aphids Natural Enemies – You can eliminate aphids from your garden by introducing some natural enemies such as lacewings and ladybugs. These natural enemies can be bought from vendors, or lured into the garden using their individual foods.

Visit http://ift.tt/2pfW7JC for more pest prevention tips.

Working Towards An Ecosystem Free From Infestation

The best way to maintain your garden and not to worry over the population of aphids is by creating a balance between host plants, prey, and predators.

The best way to control aphids is not by totally killing all aphids in your garden, because when they are totally destroyed, their natural predators migrate away from the farm to other places where they can find food, thereby leaving your farm vulnerable.

The most advisable thing to do is to not over-shelter, over-fertilize or over-pamper your plants, instead, allow them to and adapt strongly to the environment such that they can naturally heal from mild damages caused by insects.

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