Trees, like people, need food and nutrients to grow. And like people, they do get sick, but it’s harder to recognize an unhealthy tree than a sick person. The best way to know if your tree is sick or dying is to examine its branches, trunk, foliage, and roots for symptoms.
The Tree’s Trunk
A sick tree’s bark will show signs of deteriorating health. Vertical cracks or large areas of fungal growth indicate internal rotting. Additionally, an unhealthy tree will not be able to regenerate the bark it sheds as a healthy one usually does. A leaning tree is also a sign of poor health.
The Tree’s Roots
Since the tree’s roots are underground, it’s difficult to determine a problem. They are also less vulnerable because the roots are not exposed to the elements. However, Soil compaction, tightly packed soil that is unable to absorb water, can cause trees to die.
The Tree’s Branches and Leaves
Leaves process the sunlight and convert it to food for energy. If you see dead branches and leaves it’s an indication that your tree is unhealthy. You can check a tree’s condition by removing a small twig from a branch, breaking it open, and checking the color inside. If the color is a bright green that is a positive sign, a dull green color can mean the tree is aging. A brown color can mean the tree is starting to deteriorate.
Other indications that your tree is doing poorly are:
- Wilting leaves-there are many reasons why leaves wilt. Heat stress can prevent the tree from absorbing the amount of water it needs during hot weather. In addition, too much water can also cause wilting as well as diseases such as fireblight, a bacteria caused by rainy warm spring weather.
- Yellowing leaves-this condition is due to nutrient deficiency. The soil may have too low PH, lack nitrogen, or just be deficient in minerals. Fertilizing will help.
- Brown and dying leaves and needles-salt damage from winter roads can cause browning. This usually isn’t an issue unless they don’t regenerate during warm months.
- Spots or blemishes on leaves, fruit, and/or bark-fungal and bacterial diseases cause spots as well as insects but are hard to determine for the amateur eye. An arborist will be able to give a proper diagnosis.
- Holes in leaves-also caused by pesky insects and diseases. A tree care service like Blessing Tree Care can prevent problems with regular care.
- Fuzzy or moldy areas on leaves-Fungal infections are frequently indicated by black, white, or gray patches on leaves that have a “furry” or powdery appearance. Powdery mildew develops as a fuzzy, whitish covering later in the growing season, especially in humid conditions, on overgrown or tightly spaced plants, and on new growth. Black sooty mold is a fungus that develops on the gooey liquid (known as honeydew) that aphids emit when they consume the sap in leaves.
What to Do When My Tree is Sick
The best way to determine the health of a tree is to consult a tree care service like Blessing Tree Service. A trained and knowledgeable arborist can diagnose the problem with your tree. One of the most common issues is over or under-watering. Others may include soil compaction or recent construction that disturbed the soil. To improve the tree’s health, consistent pruning and mulching are a must as well as fertilizing the soil.