Summer: Drought, Bugs + Disease, Oh My!
It’s finally summer, the season of vacations, barbeque and less obviously, tree-related problems. Drought, bugs and disease (oh my!) reign supreme in these hot summer months. So while you should definitely cut loose and take a break this summer, make sure you’re not forgetting our chlorophyll-filled friends! Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The first, and perhaps most common summer problem is drought. While this challenge seems like a given, symptoms are not as obvious as you would think. The most recognizable sign is burnt-looking leaves, but please don’t wait until this point to worry about water stress! Drought attacks trees in the sense that it arrests the growth of their foliage and root hairs and drastically increases their susceptibility to insects, disease and death.* Once your tree gets to the point where water stress is apparent, it has already suffered long-term damage.
- Choose Drought Resistant Plants – While this measure will ensure an easier summer, it is a measure that must be implemented at the very beginning and is not useful for existing trees. If you’re unsure of which to choose, perhaps opt for some colorful lantanas or a coleus plant with large, vibrant leaves. Succulents such as yuccas are also great due to the little water and overall maintenance that they require. For more drought resistant options, be sure to check out 7 Plants to Spruce Up Your Summer Garden!
- Use Mulch – Mulch insulates the ground and will prevent the water in the soil from evaporating. It also contains many vitamins and minerals that boost root growth, therefore increasing the root surface area.
- Keep Up with Weeding – Weeds compete with your trees for water and absorb much of the available surface water before it ever reaches the roots.*
Unfortunately, as well as directly damaging them, drought can indirectly damage trees by making them more susceptible to pests. While some insects will target trees regardless of their health, most only attack if a tree has already been weakened by another stressor. These stressors can include but are not limited to: water stress (drought), cosmetic damage to trunk, lack of proper nutrients, overgrowth and rot.
- Keep Trees Healthy – Periodic watering, fertilization of the surrounding soil and seasonal pruning are just a few ways you can keep your trees healthy and bug-free.*
- Remove Infested Areas – Once a tree is infested, non-chemical approaches are limited and would require the removal of affected areas. In some cases this can mean the removal of the entire tree to prevent the infestation of surrounding trees.
- Use Fumigants – Fumigants act to repel egg-laying adults and kill accessible larvae.*
- Use Residual Insecticides – Most residual insecticides target adults and larvae that have not yet penetrated the sap-wood or heartwood.
As if they weren’t bad enough alone, water stress and pests both make trees far more susceptible to disease. Like insects, most diseases tend to only take hold in trees that have already been weakened by other environmental factors. A few of the most common summer tree diseases include slime flux (rotting of the trunk and branches), powdery mildew (fungus spores that coat and kill leaves) and cankers (blisters of the bark caused by fungal infection).*
- Keep Trees Healthy – This sounds familiar! Just like humans, trees need to be healthy and strong in order to fight each of these illnesses. Watering, using fertilizer and pruning are some of the best ways to strengthen your trees.
- Use Fungicides – Powdery mildew can be treated with fungicides, but make sure the chemicals you use are suitable for the type of tree you’re trying to treat While treatment is an option for powdery mildew, this disease is typically not life-threatening and should not require such action.*
- Inspect your trees regularly – Accidents happen! Watch for cosmetic damage and wounds, as such injuries leave your tree vulnerable to insects and canker-causing fungus.*
As you may have noticed, keeping your trees healthy and watered is an incredibly common theme throughout this article, and Pellet 3-IA can help. While you may not be able to control the amount of rainwater your area gets during the summer, you can help your trees make the most of each watering. Pellet 3-IA increases new root hair growth by accelerating mitosis, which creates a greater root surface-area that is able to absorb more water. This also gives trees an extra health boost to fight against infestation and disease in the summer.
Summer can be a rough time for trees, but it doesn’t have to be. We hope these tips help you recognize how to identify and address these common summer tree problems and that you’re having a wonderful summer!