What do we do now?
One big thing this year 2011 taught us is that we had forgotten what a real drought is. Oh, we can go two months without rain and moan like crazy, but we were not ready for this year. This shows in our trees the most, signs of stress are all over Houston. With autumn/winter upon us, the time is now to reduce the stress damage our trees met this year. With attention to proper feeding and watering, we can have some of those trees back to where they should be. Since the roots continue to actively grow at this time of year, this where our efforts should be concentrated.
First to the feeding
A healthy dose of agricultural molasses, liquid or granular, is a good place to start. Spray or spread molasses around the tree, from the trunk, all the way past the drip line (the area where the branches reach the farthest). Molasses allows trees to recover much quicker by giving them the essential ingredients to do its own repairs. Don’t worry about putting too much as it cannot do harm to the tree if there is too much molasses. The tree will simply ignore what it does not need. You might also augment this with a feeding from a good organic fertilizer like MicroLife or Medina Grow n’ Green.
We recommend watering your trees at least once a week. A drip hose is excellent for this, it runs the water slower, and there is a better chance for absorption into the ground. Leave the drip hose running in the area until you notice run off, at which time move it to the next area. In very large yards, just turning the hose on and laying it in the grass, to flood large areas, works great. On younger trees, a bank of mulch will help this process even more if you are using a standard hose. If you have a sprinkler system, allow it to run until you see run off. Then have the system come back on an hour later and allow it to run, until you see run off again.. If you have a sprinkler system now would be a good time to reset the time or change heads on the sprinklers. Call Jim Rockwell at Allied Sprinkler at 281-463-6663, if you need help.
Your tree will talk to you
Trees can actually talk, but they speak in sign language. Learning to read the signs is actually pretty easy. There are tricks to knowing if you are giving the right amount of water.
- A green, but dry and crunchy leaf is a sign of not enough water.
- A tree that looses green leaves is not getting enough water.
- Yellow leaves near the trunk or center of a tree (or plant) is not enough water.
- Stunted or twisted new growth may be a sign of watering extremes. Wet, then too dry.
- A leaf with brown crunchy ends is usually signals too much water.
- A wilted tree or plant may NOT be dry! Check before you water. If a plant looses many root hairs because they have drowned, the plant will wilt. More water is the worst thing you can do in this situation.
- If in doubt, bring some of the leaves or pictures (use macro on your camera when taking close-ups) to a nursery professional for help. With a bit of care, you can keep that investment and have it flourish even more.
Is it alive?
Most trees have good recuperative powers but, alas, not all of them will have made it. Here’s how to check. You need to scrape the bark of the trunk. If just under the bark there is green, that tree is a live, and with a little care, it will probably be fine in the spring. If it is brown with no green (look at the pine trees), sorry to say, your tree did not make it. Call Jack Fitzgerald with Treeco Tree Service at 281-356-2754 for a quality, insured removal. If your trees have large dead areas, then you probably need to call an arborist (call Jack again), to see if the tree is worth saving. Then, it’s time for a new tree. Read this link for why you should plant now. https://rcwnurseries.com/?p=138
Some of us waited too long before we acted to save our trees. Some of us over did the watering. Some trees are survivors, other were not. Mother nature had her way with us this year and the best we can do is to suck it up and keep on trying. We can make Houston one of the most “treed” cities in the country again…one yard at a time.