Evergreen Tree Disease – Needle Cast Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Is your evergreen tree turning a worrisome color? If the answer is yes, you need to take action before it’s too late to save them.

Evergreen tree with discolored foliage from needle cast infection

As the name implies, these trees should be “always green.” When they start yellowing, browning, or blackening, something deadly is likely happening on the inside. Proper treatment depends on interpreting visible symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis.

The team at thetreecareguide.com gathered information on needle cast, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and answers some frequently asked questions.

Evergreen Tree Disease – Needle Cast

Needle cast diseases are tricky to diagnose and treat because the symptoms only become apparent 12 to 18 months after becoming infected.

Evergreen tree with chlorosis from needle cast infection

Needle Cast Symptoms

Since needle cast diseases are caused by various fungi, there may be slight variations in symptoms. However, they have many of the following symptoms in common:

• Needles turn entirely yellow or brown.
• Girdled needles will appear to be tri-colored; green from the base to a reddish brown spot in the middle, and yellow from the spot to the tip.
• Infected and dying needles will be riddled with dark, light, or yellow rounded or spider-like fruiting structures depending on the invading fungi.
• Diseased needles are shed in mass, making the tree look sparse and thin.
• In many cases, only the current season’s needle growth will be left on the tree.
• A tree’s lower branches are typically more severely affected and usually the first to present dieback.
• In more advanced cases, branch dieback may occur anywhere on the tree.

As other non-infectious evergreen diseases may mimic needle cast symptoms, it is essential to make a positive identification. Two of the above symptoms are an absolute giveaway of a needle cast infection; girdled needles and fruiting structures on infected needles.

Diseased evergreen tree infected with needle cast

During winter months, your evergreens may suffer from drought and sun scalding. The appearance of this condition is very similar to that of needle cast, read more on Winter Protection for Evergreens, Trees, and Plants at thetreecareguide.com/winter-protection-evergreens-trees-plants/

Needle Cast Diagnosis

Once you have determined that needle cast is present, it is essential to identify which disease is affecting the tree by sending a sample to a plant clinic. The methods of control will vary according to the fungal species causing the infection.

You can accomplish this by:

• Hiring an arborist to remove samples and have them tested.
• Contacting your state’s Department of Agriculture and sending a sample of the infected tree to one of their field offices or testing centers.
• Contacting your state’s university to locate one of their plant and pest diagnostic clinics or extensions.

Universities and Departments of Agriculture will likely have a sample submission form to fill out along with specific instructions on how to handle and ship samples to them.

Needle Cast Treatment

If the disease is not too severe, control of needle cast can be accomplished through treatment and preventative measures:

• Remove and destroy all infected needles.
• Trees that have already died should be removed by a professional tree service and properly disposed of.
• Preventative chemical controls should be applied when needles are half elongated and again once they reach full length.
• As this disease can remain asymptomatic for 12 to 18 months, chemical controls should be applied for a minimum of two years.
• To reduce the risk of reinfecting more mature trees, chemical controls may be required indefinitely.
• Select resistant evergreen species when planting.
• Make sure trees are adequately spaced to allow good air circulation.
• Eliminate all methods of overhead watering (splashing water spreads spores).
• Sterilize all equipment (including protective clothing) used to prune, dig, or handle infected trees before using them on healthy uninfected specimens.
• Follow all control and prevention instructions given by the plant clinic.

Advanced cases of needle cast are challenging to treat and will usually result in the death of the tree.

Dead evergreen tree from needle cast disease

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can a brown evergreen come back?
Answer: Yes. If the browning is due to an adversely cold and dry winter, your broad-leafed or needled evergreen can make a comeback as temperatures warm up in the spring and they get sufficient water.

However, if the browning is due to disease, you will have a much more difficult time getting your evergreen to rebound.

Evergreen tree infected and dying from needle cast disease

Question: Which fungi cause needle cast?
Answer: Several fungi cause needle cast in evergreen trees. Some of the more common fungi are:

• Lophodermium
• Cyclaneusma
• Ploioderma
• Rhizosphaeria
• Phaeocryptopus
• Rhabdocline

Proper identification of the fungi species will help determine the course of treatment for the infected specimen.

My Evergreen is Turning Brown and Dying

When it comes to evergreen trees, “green is good” and “brown is bad!” These trees are built to be green, and when they start to turn yellow and brown, chances are good that you are dealing with needle cast.

In this article, you discovered the symptoms, how to diagnose, and how to treat a needle cast infection.

Your delay in identifying and treating needle cast can result in the death of the infected tree and propagate the disease to any surrounding evergreens.

Sources:
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/evergreen-needle-cast-diseases-trees
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=nebforestpubs
https://extension.illinois.edu/focus/index.cfm?problem=rhizosphaera-needle-cast

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/evergreen-disease-needle-cast-symptoms-diagnosis-treatment/

Tree Bark Canker Disease Identification, Treatment, and Prevention

Your trees could be sick and dying in plain sight with no apparent symptoms. Discover what to look for and how to fix it before one of them falls on your house.

Tree trunk with severe canker disease infection

By the time diseases that cause cankers on trees become visible, it is often too late to save the limb, branch, or tree. Keeping your trees healthy and having them inspected annually are two of your greatest defenses against tree disease and death.

thetreecareguide.com defines cankers, looks at the pathogens that cause them, the signs of an infected tree, how to treat them, and how to prevent cankers from becoming a severe threat to your trees.

What Are Tree Cankers?

Tree cankers are symptoms of a fungal or bacterial pathogen having infected damaged bark (from an impact injury) or an open wound (from unhealed pruning).

The fungi and bacteria that cause cankers are common, widespread, and harmful to an extensive range of tree and shrub species. Some of the more familiar pathogens that cause cankers are:

Cytospora (a genus of Ascomycete fungi) – Frequently found on pines, spruce, willows, and poplars.

Nectria (a genus of Ascomycete fungi) – Commonly found on oaks and maples.

Phytophthora lateralis – Infects cedars and yews.

Phytophthora cinnamomi – Over 1,000 species of conifers and hardwoods worldwide can host this pathogen.

Phytophthora cambivora – Affects conifers and hardwoods throughout Europe and North America.

Canker diseases can easily kill branches or cause enough structural damage for branches to break free in severe weather. At its worst, cankers on the trunk of a tree can be in the process of girdling and subsequently killing the entire tree.

Tree canker disease causing a deformed trunk

Signs and Symptoms of Tree Cankers

As a fungal or bacterial pathogen invades bark and sapwood, it blocks or kills the phloem (water and nutrient-conducting tissues). As the phloem succumbs to this invasion, wilting and dieback begin to occur.

Cankers form on branches, stems, and trunks as a result of the interaction between the pathogen and its host. As the pathogen grows and expands within the wood, the host tries to contain its growth through compartmentalization (this is the same process a tree uses to heal wounds from pruning activities). For this reason, it can take years for a healthy tree to begin showing the following symptoms:

• Wilting
• Dieback
• Stunted growth of new foliage
• Chlorosis (yellowing or discoloration of foliage)
• Early leaf drop (deciduous trees)
• Excessive loss of foliage (evergreen trees)
• Darkened lesions on the bark
• Split bark sometimes oozing sap or moisture

Tree canker disease causing sap to flow from the cambium layer

Cankers may vary in size and shape depending on the vigor of the tree and the aggressiveness of the pathogen. While most cankers appear as dark, sunken oval-shaped lesions, they may grow into what seem to be split open knots on the bark.

Now that you know the signs of cankers, read thetreecareguide.com/tree-stress-warning-signs-preservation-methods/ for tree stress warning signs to be aware of that are not associated with cankers.

Tree Canker Treatment

There are no universally registered chemicals for the treatment of cankers. However, once a canker is detected on a stem or branch, the following measures should be taken to prevent the pathogen from spreading to other areas or other trees:

• Sterilize all pruning/cutting tools between cuts with 70% rubbing alcohol or a mixture of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts water.
• Work only when the bark is dry to prevent the pathogen from easily spreading.
• For stems and twigs, prune them back to several inches behind the canker.
• Branches with cankers close to the trunk should be pruned back to the branch collar without leaving stubs.
• Never cut into a canker. By doing so, you may be allowing the pathogen to spread.
• When a canker is located on the trunk of a tree, do not attempt to remove it. In these cases, seek the advice of an arborist.

Tree canker disease on branch with severe decay

If you find yourself removing multiple cankers from a single tree or cankers from numerous trees, it would be wise to have your trees and landscape inspected by a professional.

Canker Disease Prevention

The prevention of canker pathogens, disease, and infestations all depend on a series of factors including:

• Appropriate seasonal pruning read more on pruning techniques and safety at thetreecareguide.com/tree-pruning-purpose-techniques-safety/
• Grow those trees and plants suitable for the USDA hardiness zone you are located in
• Select disease resistant species
• Use proper planting and mulching methods
• Provide ample amounts of water during dry seasons
• Maintain a nutrient-rich and pH adjusted soil appropriate for optimal growth
• Protect trees during winter and severe weather to avoid bark wounds

Another essential element in keeping trees healthy is the scheduling of annual inspections by tree professionals. They can often detect potential health risks in their early stages and help you to avoid catastrophic damages.

Tree inspection looking for canker disease and other pathogens

In cases where you think the damage has gone beyond repair, read thetreecareguide.com/signs-that-you-need-to-remove-your-dying-damaged-tree/ and know when you may need remove the tree altogether.

Tree Cankers and the Diseases that Cause Them

Tree diseases often go unnoticed until they have done more damage than can be mitigated. Knowing what to look for and how to take action is one of your greatest assets in keeping your trees healthy and thriving for generations.

In this article, you discovered what tree cankers are, how they are caused, the signs of an infection, how to treat cankers, and how to prevent them from causing irreparable damage to your trees and property.

Your failing to take action when your trees are infected by invasive pathogens will result in the compromised health and ultimate death of the tree and may lead to that tree falling on your home, car, or causing catastrophic, even life-threatening damages.

Sources:
http://plantclinic.cornell.edu/factsheets/treecankers.pdf
https://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/help-diseases/canker-diseases
https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/cytospora-canker-2-937/

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/bark-canker-disease-identification-treatment-prevention/

Indoor Evergreen Tree Care

Don’t let your indoor tree die. It needs attention to continue adding life, color, and texture to its environment. And with some easy care tips, your evergreen tree will thrive.

Indoor trees can adequately fill a space, improve the air quality, and be a conversation piece all at once. All you have to do is care for it, and in return, it will give you years of natural beauty.

indoor evergreen tree care

thetreecareguide.com recommends the best trees to bring into your home and presents professional care tips for indoor evergreen trees.

Best Indoor Evergreen Tree Species

While there are innumerous species of trees that could be suitable for indoor growth, we have selected the following 5 evergreen trees for their adaptability to an indoor setting:

Money Tree – The Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica) has many myths surrounding its origin. Most notably that it brings good fortune to its owner.

Money tree indoor evergreen care

Ficus Tree – The ever popular and evergreen Ficus (Ficus benjamina) is native to Asia and Australia and is the official tree of Bangkok. In a natural setting, these trees can reach heights of nearly 100ft.

Ficus tree indoor evergreen care

Joshua Tree – Also known as the Yucca tree (Yucca brevifolia), this species is native to the southwestern United States, and in its natural setting, a Joshua tree rarely grows over 50ft tall.

Joshua tree indoor evergreen care

Dracaena Tree – From the Asparagaceae family, these are among the best trees for air quality, and are incredibly tolerant to sparse watering. The Dracaena genus is comprised of over 100 species, including the “Lucky Bamboo.”

Dracena tree indoor evergreen care

Rubber Tree – Native to Southeast Asia, the rubber tree (Ficus elastica) with its broad shiny leaves can reach over 130ft in height with a trunk measuring 6 ½ft wide.

Rubber tree indoor evergreen care

If you’re looking for the perfect outdoor evergreen trees like the magnolia or eucalyptus, visit plantsandtreespecies.wordpress.com

Caring for Indoor Trees

Bringing an evergreen tree indoors is one way to change the dynamics of a room completely. With that, you will need to care for it while it grows and adapts to a controlled climate. The following will help you give your tree what it needs to thrive:

Planting the Tree – Trees can adapt themselves to their surroundings. That includes the container it grows in. The larger the container, the more root development it will achieve, and subsequently, the larger the tree will grow.

Potted indoor evergreen tree care

For all of the trees mentioned above, the soil used for your tree should be nutrient-rich, with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5. Fertilizers are not necessary for the first year. Each year after, in late winter or early spring, your tree will benefit from a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and a fresh layer of soil.

An annual soil test will guide you in determining what adjustments the soil requires to maintain the ideal pH level and nutrient content.

Annually, or as the tree grows, increase the size of the container until the tree reaches the desired size. The container should have drainage holes to avoid overwatering.

When planting, re-potting, or adding soil to your tree, never cover the root flare. The root flare is the lower point of the trunk where the roots begin. If planted too low in the soil, rot can set in and kill your tree.

Watering Your Tree – As a tree grows, the more water it will consume. As long as the soil is well-drained, keep it moist by watering once per week with room-temperature water.

Insect Infestation – Regularly inspect your tree for signs of an insect infestation. If kept healthy, your tree has its own defense mechanisms and can ward off most attacks. However, there are times that you must intervene.

Neem oil is one of the best options for indoor tree pest control. It is a natural way to stop an infestation and avoid using harsh chemical insecticides within your home.

Caring for the Foliage – While an occasional misting may seem like a good thing, indoor tree foliage should be lightly dusted with a damp cloth on a regular basis.

Pruning Your Tree – You can prune an indoor tree in the same way you would prune a tree growing outside. Some of the reasons for pruning are:

• Shaping the tree
• Removing dead or dying branches
• Removing diseased or infested foliage
• Encouraging spring growth

Pruning indoor evergreen tree care

Indoor Tree Light Requirements – All of the trees named above will thrive in a well-lit location, preferably near a window or glass door with some bright light during the day.

Location – Your tree will acclimate to its surroundings fairly quickly. It is not recommended to move them frequently, as this will stress the tree.

Bring the Outside In

For your indoor tree to thrive, you’ll need to give it some regular attention and some basic care. An indoor tree can be an amazing highlight or conversation piece for you to brag about.

In this article, you discovered 5 species of trees that adapt perfectly to an indoor environment, as well as their soil, water, light, and pruning necessities.

When growing a tree indoors, you will benefit from its continued growth, improved air quality, and beauty by caring for it in the easiest of ways. Conversely, your inaction or neglect will quickly lead to the tree’s death.

Sources:
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org
http://www.mgpub.org
https://www.nybg.org
http://gardencentersofcolorado.org/pdfs/care_sheets/Ficus.pdf

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/indoor-evergreen-tree-care/

5 Evergreen Shrubs for Shade – Zone 8

No landscape, deck, pool, backyard, or outdoor living area in zone 8 is complete until your shrubs provide refreshing year-round shade from the sun.

Zone 8 backyard landscape with shrubs for shade

For those living in USDA plant hardiness zone 8, summers can be hot and stifling, and winters cold but short-lived. Planting evergreen shrubs strategically on your landscape will provide ample shade, cooler temperatures, and privacy.

The team at thetreecareguide.com carefully selected the following five evergreen shrub species ideal for plant hardiness zone 8, and compiled their growth and care information for you to utilize.

Rhododendron Facts and Information

Rhododendrons are very popular medium-sized shrubs that flower abundantly in Springtime. They are slow-growing and must be planted in acidic, organic, and well-drained moist soils. For their establishment and best growth environment, they prefer partial shade.

Zone 8 evergreen shrub rhododendron for shade

Rhododendron Information:

Hardiness Zone – 4 through 8
Height and Width – 4 feet to 10 feet tall and wide
Shape – Rounded and spreads as it matures
Growth Rate – About 1 foot per year in optimum conditions
Time to Maturity – 3 years in optimum conditions
When to Plant – Early fall or spring
Ideal Soil pH – 4.5 to 6
Pest Problems – Scale and aphids are common problems for rhododendrons. Both can be easily treated with neem oil.
Special Care – Mulch rhododendrons each spring with 2 to 5 inches of organic mulch to protect shallow roots and keep the soil damp.

Emerald Arborvitae Facts and Information

Emerald Arborvitae is a popular tall-and-narrow shrub that is commonly seen potted on porches flanking a door. They are the preferred shrub for privacy screens and tight spaces between properties. This species grows well in both alkaline and acidic soil, is very drought tolerant, and prefers full sun.

Zone 8 shrubs for shade evergreen emerald arborvitae

Emerald Arborvitae Information:

Hardiness Zone – 3 through 8
Height and Width – 15 to18 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide
Shape – Tall and narrow
Growth Rate – 6 to 9 inches per year
Time to Maturity – 15 to 20 years
When to Plant – Late fall or early spring
Ideal Soil pH – 6.8 to 7.2
Pest Problems – Bagworms and spider mites are troublesome for this species, treat them as follows:

Bagworms should be treated with either spinosad, permethrin, sevin or malathion in late spring (May).

Spider mites are resistant to commercial insecticides, and they are best treated with a horticultural or neem oil.

Special Care – Make sure this species receives several deep waterings in late fall early winter. Wind, sun, lack of water, and freezing temperatures combined can cause browning of the foliage.

American Holly Facts and Information

American holly is a very popular broad-leafed evergreen which produces clusters of red berries that last through fall and winter. While quick to fill out, American holly is considered a slow grower, preferring moist, acidic well-drained soil, and full sun for optimum growth.

Evergreen shrubs for shade American holly zone 8

American Holly Information:

Hardiness Zone – 5 through 9
Height and Width – 40 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide at maturity
Shape – Dense pyramidal
Growth Rate – 12 to 24 inches per year
Time to Maturity – Slow grower – up to 10 years
When to Plant – Early spring
Ideal Soil pH – 5.0 to 6.5
Pest Problems – Leaf miner and scale are problems for American holly, treat the shrub with neem oil during the dormant season to control these pests, and prune back areas that become heavily infested.
Special Care – Hollies are dioecious shrubs, they need both male and female plants to produce seeds (berries). Only the female holly bushes will produce the red berries. Therefore, one male American holly should be planted for every three females.

This will ensure the iconic looking brilliant green holly with red berries is on display well into the winter season. An added benefit to the production of these berries is that they will attract a variety of birds and other wildlife to your landscape, increasing its biodiversity.

Hicks Yew Facts and Information

Hicks Yew is a very popular tall and slender shrub that’s easily pruned to form shapes. This species is slow-growing and performs well when planted in acidic, organic, and well-drained moist soils. Yews do best in full sun and can tolerate heat, drought, root pruning, and shearing. However, this shrub does not do well in poorly drained soil, which can lead to root rot, health decline, and death of the shrub.

Hicks yew zone 8 evergreen shrub for shade

Hicks Yew Information:

Hardiness Zone – 4 through 8
Height and Width – 10 to 12 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide
Shape – Tall and slender – May be pruned to form shapes
Growth Rate – 8 to 15 inches per year
Time to Maturity – Slow grower – up to 10 years
When to Plant – Fall or spring
Ideal Soil pH – 4.0 to 5.5
Pest Problems – Scale is a common pest problem for Hicks Yew. Repeated applications of neem oil should resolve this issue. If heavily infested, prune back all troubled areas and treat the remaining foliage with neem oil.
Special Care – Provide regular deep waterings throughout the first growing season to grow a strong and extensive root system. Once established, water weekly, increasing the frequency during severe summers.

Note: Hicks yew can be pruned in the summer months to form geometrical or other shapes. While yew shrubs are resilient, over pruning may weaken or kill this species.

Prague Viburnum Facts and Information

Prague Viburnum is a very popular flowering ornamental or hedge shrub. This species is fast-growing and performs well when planted in well-drained moist soil. In late spring, pink buds open up to reveal ivory flowers which eventually yield red berries. These berries eventually turn glossy black and persist through the beginning of winter.

Prague viburnum evergreen in zone 8 for shade

Prague Viburnum Information:

Hardiness Zone – 5 through 8
Height and Width – 8 to 10 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide
Shape – Upright oval to oval-rounded
Growth Rate – 24 or more inches per year
Time to Maturity – 4 to 6 years
When to Plant – Fall or early spring
Ideal Soil pH – 5.5 to 6.5
Pest Problems – Scale is a common pest problem for Prague Viburnum. Repeated applications of neem oil should resolve this issue. If heavily infested or infestation persists, prune back all affected areas.
Special Care – When this species shows signs of trouble, losing its form, shows signs of dieback, or is damaged, it can be pruned to the ground and allowed to regrow.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8 and Evergreen Shrubs for Shade

USDA plant hardiness zone 8 is an excellent area to grow evergreen shrubs. The weather and environment in this zone promote fast and tall growth, eventually providing an abundance of shade and privacy for your landscape or outdoor living space.

The emerald arborvitae, American holly, hicks yew, rhododendron and Prague viburnum are five of the many suitable evergreen shrubs for zone 8. These specific species, give you a unique opportunity to fill the spaces in your yard, while getting the most out of their shape and size.

Zone 8 landscape with hicks yew shrubs for shade

By planting these five evergreen shrubs, you gain the benefit of shade and privacy where you need it in your yard, year-round.

Sources:
https://hvp.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/rhododendron.html
https://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/10/what-is-the-best-evergreen-for-screening/
http://www.uky.edu/hort/American-Holly
https://hvp.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/ta_media.html
https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/viburnum-x-pragense/
https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/viburnum/
https://shop.arborday.org/category.aspx?zcid=132

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/5-evergreen-shrubs-shade-zone-8/

Volcano Mulching – Doing This Can Kill Your Tree

Volcano mulching resembles a little volcano around the base of a tree trunk made from mulch. It may look cool, but it’s a death sentence for the tree.

Mulching is an essential part of tree care. However, volcano mulching is a practice which is a tree killer and is highly discouraged.

Tree volcano mulching in landscape

Read on as the team at thetreecareguide.com defines the importance of mulching, what it means for the health of a tree, the dangers of volcano mulching, and answers some commonly asked questions.

Mulch Volcanoes Are Tree Killers

A mulch volcano occurs when a thick layer of mulch is laid around a tree and piled up against the base of the trunk, covering the bark and root flare, resembling a volcano.

For one reason or another, this way of mulching seems to be fairly common, even prevalent in some regions. Landscapers, lawn services, home/business owners that are doing this may be under the assumption that mulch cannot harm trees. Sadly, they are mistaken.

This practice causes the bark at the base of the tree to be permanently shaded and in constant contact with moisture. The ramifications of volcano mulching for a tree are devastating and may result in the following:

  • Cankers
  • Splitting
  • Disease
  • Decay
  • Insect infestation
  • Root rot
  • The death of the tree
  • The unexpected falling of the tree

The tree in the image below may seem to be properly mulched but it is in fact volcano mulched. The level of mulch around the trunk is above the root flare and in contact with the bark.

volcano mulched tree above root flare

Tree Bark – The dead tree cells that cover and defend a tree’s trunk, branches, and limbs compose what we know as bark. For bark to optimally serve its purpose (keeping insects and disease from making the tree a host) it needs air and light to remain hardened.

Over Mulching – Too much mulch can end up matted over time. Just as detrimental as volcano mulching, matted mulch acts as a barrier and stops water and air from reaching the roots. You can quickly solve this by fluffing it up with a rake and removing any excess, 2 to 4 inches thick is ideal.

For more info on growing healthier trees, read these 3 mulching tips.

Root Flare – Definition and Vulnerability

The root flare or root crown is the point at the base of a tree trunk where the trunk expands and transitions into the root system. Trees that sprout and grow naturally have the flare at ground level.

Maintaining this level is essential to the tree’s health for two particular reasons:

1 – From the root flare down, bark transitions to the outer layers of the roots, specialized in resisting constant exposure to soil moisture.

2 – Above the flare, is bark. Exposing this bark to constant moisture inhibits the transportation of oxygen and nutrients by the phloem, effectively girdling the tree.

When planting saplings, transplanting older trees, or mulching around any tree, the root flare must be kept at ground level, free from obstruction or coverage.

Pictured below, a sapling has been over mulched, covering the root flare.

Landscaping volcano mulching over sapling root flare

Importance of Mulching

A 2 to 4-inch thick layer of organic mulch spread out on the root zone without making contact with the trunk (like a donut with the tree trunk in the center) is essential to your tree’s health for the following reasons:

Water Retention – Mulch helps retain water absorbed by the soil keeping the roots moist and preventing the hardening of the ground, especially during times of drought.

Soil Insulation – During times of extreme temperature fluctuations, mulch helps to regulate soil temperature, protecting the root system from both hot and cold temperatures.

Weed Prevention – Mulch prevents weeds from establishing themselves in the root zone of a tree.

People Also Ask

Q: Can Mulch Kill a Tree?
A: Yes. When improperly applied, mulch can lead to a series of vulnerabilities, the decline of the tree’s health, and eventual death.

Q: What is the Purpose of Mulch Around Trees?
A: Mulch insulates the root zone from extreme temperatures and helps retain moisture for optimal root growth conditions.

Q: Why Should I Keep Mulch Away from Tree Trunks?
A: Continued exposure to moisture weakens the bark, leaving it vulnerable to insect infestation and disease.

Q: How Deep Should the Mulch Be?
A: Spread organic mulch in the root zone in a 2 to 4-inch layer. Thicker than this is considered over mulching and may result in matting.

Q: Can You Put Fertilizer on Top of Mulch?
A: Yes. Applying a granular fertilizer over mulch is fine. It will slowly make its way to the soil and roots.

Q: What is the Best Mulch to Use?
A: Organic. Mulch is meant to decompose slowly and as it does, nutrients are infused into the soil. Mulches containing cypress and cedar are highly sought after, as are those which include pine needles or straw. Be aware that each type of mulch has both advantages and disadvantages.

Q: Is Compost Good for Mulch?
A: Not exactly. Compost comes packed with nutrients that you want to get to the roots; it is better when mixed with the soil.

Watch the following video to see how to correct a volcano mulched tree.

Proper Mulching for Healthy Trees

By avoiding volcano mulching, you are promoting the health of that tree and the safety of everything around it. Likewise, the proper mulching of a tree’s root zone helps the tree avoid the stressors of extreme temperatures and drought.

Volcano mulching invites a series of potential health problems for a tree, including severe implications around the area of the root flare. Knowing the importance and method of proper mulching is a fundamental part of keeping trees healthy.

Allowing trees to continue improperly mulched can quickly lead to disease or infestation, subsequently leading to health problems, their death, and potential falling.

Sources:
https://extension.illinois.edu/gardenerscorner/issue_07/spring_05_11.cfm
http://richmondtreestewards.org/education/threats-to-trees/volcano-mulching/
https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/documents2/master%20gardeners/mulch_volcano.pdf

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/volcano-mulching-can-kill-your-tree/

Tree Pest – How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs are nuisance pests, which can be found congregating in large numbers wherever boxelder trees are located. They are fast to reproduce and can reach infestation proportions quickly.

Boisea trivittata boxelder bug tree pest

Control measures for boxelders should take place in the summertime before they find their way into your home during the fall months.

The team at thetreecareguide.com has researched ways for you to not only control these pests outside, but to prepare your home and stop them from getting in.

Boxelder Bug Appearance and Habitat

The adult boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) is about ½ inch long and dark brown or black in color with an elongated oval shape. These insects can be identified by their bright red markings along the edges of their wings and on their abdomen. Nymphs are shorter and bright red in color before developing their wings. Their name is derived from the boxelder tree which they feed on and lay their eggs on.

Boxelder bugs can be found nearly everywhere across the US and parts of Canada in spring, summer and fall. During the warmer months, they will congregate (sometimes in large numbers) on South and West facing walls, stones, and decks to bask in the sun. They become a nuisance in the fall when they seek refuge in structures (often homes) to overwinter.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

Boxelder bugs will live out their lifecycle near female boxelder trees. It is the seeds and new foliage of the female which compose nearly the entire diet of the insect. In the absence of the boxelder, they will feed on the seeds and newly developing leaves from ash and maple trees.

Acer negundo boxelder tree blooming

Foliage on trees occupied by boxelders will be discolored, and in severe infestations will end up deformed. Occasionally, they will also invade plum and apple trees feeding on the fruit, and in doing so, will leave dark spots on the fruit from puncturing its skin.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Outside

The absolute solution to a boxelder bug recurring nuisance is to remove the trees they feed on. Otherwise, continuous treatment will be necessary to curb their population.

When planning your landscape design, avoid planting trees that attract the insect.

Conventional pesticides generally have little effect on these insects. However, a simple solution of laundry detergent and water is extremely effective when sprayed directly on them.

Watch this video to see how the water and detergent mixture is used.

A two-step approach should be used when the bugs start to collect on walls, stones, decks, and other surfaces:

Step 1 – Spray the area where they are congregating with a residual insecticide.
Step 2 – Directly spray the bugs with a water and laundry detergent solution.

As boxelder bugs will overwinter relatively close to the trees that they occupy and feed on, it is essential to prepare the outside of your home, shed, or other structure by doing the following.

  • Repair or replace torn screens.
  • Seal cracks around window frames and doors.
  • Make sure doors and windows close flush, creating a seal.
  • Add door sweeps to create a barrier at the bottom of all exterior doors.
  • Patch any holes, cracks, or fissures on the structure’s exterior.

Boxelder bug infestation crack in wall

Boxelder Bug Control Inside Your Home

Controlling boxelder bugs becomes much more difficult once large numbers of them find a way into your home. While the bugs – within the walls, crevices, and attic – are cold, they will remain inactive. However, if they are warmed by the home’s heating system or furnace, they will become active and begin to move around the house.

These bugs don’t feed or reproduce within the home. However, their fecal matter will leave reddish-orange stains on furniture, curtains, and walls. When removing them from your home, take note of the following:

  1. When boxelder bugs are disturbed or handled, they will emit a strong unpleasant smell. This instinctive reaction is one of the reasons they are able to congregate in open sunny spaces, as the usual insect predators tend to avoid them. This is also why they are sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as “stink bugs.”
  2. Do not attempt to kill this or other insects deep within crevices or spaces in which you cannot remove them. Decomposing insect bodies can attract dermestid (skin) beetles.
  3. Household bug sprays and some spray cleaners can be very effective when applied directly to boxelder bugs.
  4. Using a vacuum cleaner is an advantageous “hands-free” solution. However, this is a temporary fix if the insect’s point(s) of entry have not been sealed or fixed. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag or canister contents. Otherwise, the bugs may simply crawl back out.
  5. Unless corrective measures are taken, boxelder bugs will continue to invade your home and remain a nuisance throughout mid to late spring. By May, the infestation should come to an end, as the insects will have either moved back to their host tree or died.
  6. Boxelder bugs are not known to go around biting people. However, when they are handled, their mouthparts could pierce the skin resulting in what appears to be a mosquito bite.

Watch this video to learn how to deal with boxelder bugs.

Tree Insects, Your Landscape, and Your Home

Getting rid of boxelder bugs begins with controlling them outside, carefully planning your landscape design, and preparing your home to keep them out.

Avoid planting boxelder, maple, apple, plum, and ash trees. When you see them, spray the area (outside) with a residual pesticide, followed up by spraying them directly with a water and soap solution. Finally, patch up any holes or potential entry points around your home to keep them outside.

Boxelder bugs invading your home in the fall is one of the potential consequences of not taking action against them. Remove their food source, control them outside, and take steps to keep them out of your home.

Sources:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxelder_bug
pestworld.org/news-hub/pest-articles/boxelder-bugs-101/
fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev2_026586.pdf
wimastergardener.org/article/boxelder-bug-boisea-trivittatus/

For the original version of this article visit:http://www.thetreecareguide.com/pest-how-to-get-rid-boxelder-bugs/

How to Save a Dying Evergreen Tree

Evergreen pine tree with browning needles

Trees like all living things have a lifecycle. During that lifecycle, they may experience periods of growth, illness, infestation, severe weather, and a myriad of other factors that may influence their livelihood, including their age.

The team at thetreecareguide.com has researched some of the leading evergreen ailments and their solutions for you to save your tree.

What Causes an Evergreen Tree to Die or Turn Brown

In order to properly treat your tree, you must first identify what is stressing it. When evergreen trees are stressed, they are not shy about showing symptoms.

The most common sign that your evergreen tree is stressed and potentially dying is the browning of a section or the entirety of the tree.

Pine tree dying with chlorosis and browning

The following will help you identify and name the cause of your tree’s decline:

Evergreen Tree Diseases

NEEDLECAST – This disease is extremely common in conifers and causes very obvious symptoms. If not dealt with, needlecast can quickly propagate and spread to other trees on your property.

SYMPTOMS – The following are the three principle signs that your evergreen is infected with needlecast:

  • Browning or chlorosis (loss or abnormal reduction of the green color of needles).
  • Severe needle drop.
  • Dieback.

Pine tree needles from conifer with needlecast

TREATMENT – Keep in mind that most available fungicides are most effective when applied to new foliage or before symptoms appear. The following will help you manage needlecast:

  • Prune away dead branches, twigs, and infected areas of the tree.
  • Remove fallen foliage and destroy it (burn it). Do not add to compost piles.
  • Apply a fungicide to the tree after removing signs of the infection.
  • Deep water the tree once per week to help it recover from the stress.

RUSTS – When the “raised blisters” of this family of fungi break open, the brightly colored orange to rusty brown spores are revealed (the disease is named after this coloration).

SYMPTOMS – Once the following symptoms are detected, immediate action should be taken to control and prevent the spreading of this disease:

  • Rust colored “powder” spread on the foliage.
  • Often brightly colored swellings or galls on twigs and branches.

TREATMENT – As previously mentioned, most available fungicides are most effective when applied to new foliage or before symptoms appear. The following will help you manage rust disease:

  • Prune away dead branches, twigs, and infected areas of the tree.
  • Remove fallen foliage and destroy it (burn it). Do not add to compost piles.
  • Apply a fungicide to the tree after removing signs of the infection.
  • Deep water the tree once per week to help it recover from the stress.

Environmental Factors

DROUGHT – Causes damage and death of the roots. When feeder roots and root hairs die, a water deficit occurs in the tree because these roots can no longer supply sufficient water to the top of the tree.

Drought also creates an environment for secondary infestations or disease.

SYMPTOMS – Drought symptoms may not manifest in a tree for as much as 2 years after it has occurred. But they include:

  • Heavy leaf or needle drop.
  • Drooping, wilting, yellowing.
  • Needles will show browning at the tips.
  • Cracks in the bark.
  • Dieback.
  • Thinning Canopy.

Evergreen conifer with chlorosis and browning

TREATMENT – There is no cure for drought, but it can be managed. By following these preventative steps, you can reduce the effects:

  • Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease.
  • Provide the tree with one deep watering per week, allowing water to reach down 12 to 15 inches. Several light waterings will encourage roots to grow near the surface (augmenting the problem), stick to deep watering.
  • In late fall (before the ground freezes) give the tree a final deep watering to help it avoid winter drought.
  • Mulch the area of the root spread to help the soil retain water.

Watch this video for more evergreen watering tips.

WINTER INJURY – Evergreens are particularly susceptible to winter injury. This type of injury occurs when temperatures fluctuate abnormally during the fall, winter, and spring. A warmup in the fall, a freeze in late spring, or abnormally cold winters can all have damaging effects.

SYMPTOMS – In many cases, winter injury will not be evident until mid to late spring. They include:

  • Dieback.
  • Off coloring.
  • Browning.
  • Bark splitting.
  • Heavy loss of foliage/needles.
  • Needle browning at the tip and mid section.

TREATMENT – There is no “cure” once winter injury occurs. The following will help you manage the damage:

  • Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease.
  • Make sure that the tree receives one deep watering per week.
  • In late fall before the ground freezes, give the tree a last deep watering to help it through the winter.
  • Provide physical protection from wind and severe winter weather. Burlap wraps function well.

Tips to Save Browning Evergreens

Saving a browning evergreen depends on how quickly the tree was diagnosed and what has caused the browning to occur. As mentioned in the treatments above, the following will help your evergreen recover if it is not already dead:

  1. Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease. Some cases may require extensive pruning or the removal of a portion of the tree. In this scenario, a tree professional should be called to evaluate the extent of the damage and offer direction as to which measures to take.
  2. Provide the tree with one deep watering per week in well drained soil, allowing water to reach down 12 to 15 inches. In soil with a high clay content, this interval may be every two weeks.
  3. Avoid multiple light waterings, as this will encourage roots to grow near the surface.
  4. In late fall, provide the tree with a final deep watering before the ground hardens or freezes.
  5. Mulch the area of the root spread to help the soil retain moisture. This will also help the soil retain warmth in the winter months.
  6. Verify the pH of the soil and its content. Make necessary adjustments to suit the needs of the tree species. Raise the pH using compounds with lime or limestone. Lower the pH using organic material, aluminum sulfate or sulfur will do the job as well.
  7. Fertilize only in spring and very early summer. Fertilizing in late summer or in the fall will encourage growth that will not have time to harden before winter. New growth in this manner puts unnecessary stress on the tree.
  8. Use fungicides to prevent reoccurrences of diseases. Apply only after having pruned away affected areas of the tree.
  9. Provide physical protection (especially for younger and recovering trees) during the winter season. Burlap or tree wraps work well.

If you detect that multiple evergreens are stressed and exhibiting similar symptoms, there may be a larger influence at work (including the age of your trees). If this is the case, call on a certified arborist to evaluate your entire yard or landscape.

The following video shows how fall needle drop is often confused with evergreen illness and disease. Fall needle drop is a normal process of evergreens which they will recover from.

Keeping Your Evergreen Trees Healthy

The best measure of treatment for all trees and plant life is to keep them healthy, planted in the right location, and properly watered.

For the trees you are able to recover, keep a close eye on them for secondary infections and infestations. Trees take time to heal and strengthen their defenses.

Once your trees have had problems with disease or drought, schedule an annual inspection by a certified arborist to ensure that any residual or new problems are properly addressed.

Sources:

http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/fact_sheets/plant_pathology_and_ecology/common_tree_health_problems.pdf
maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/diseases/factsheets/natural-needle-drop-ill.pdf
dummies.com/home-garden/gardening/how-to-adjust-soil-ph-for-your-garden/

For the original version of this article visit:http://www.thetreecareguide.com/how-to-save-dying-evergreen/