4 Ways to Protect Your Trees From Heat and Drought
Here in Florida, we’re used to dealing with high humidity and dangerous hurricane seasons-but not as much with drought and extreme heat. But in November of 2015, Florida experienced a heat wave. Numerous cities set record high temperatures, including Tampa, which hit an unseasonable high of 92 degrees early on in the month.
With every year feeling like the hottest year on record, you can expect to see more hot Novembers, but you aren’t the only one who needs to beat the heat. You also need to ensure that your trees can outlast periods of high temperatures and less water.
Below, we’ll tell you more about how you can keep your trees happy and healthy despite the heat.
1. Use Water Wisely
It sounds logical enough: if your tree doesn’t get enough water in the summer, you should simply give it more water, more frequently. This mindset leads homeowners to leave their sprinklers on for a half hour or more, or to run their sprinklers several times a day. It also causes them to water their trees during the hottest part of the day, thinking the water will fortify the trees against the searing sun.
It’s true that your trees lose water through their leaves during the day as the air around them heats up. And if your trees don’t get enough water, they’ll start to look dry and tired at the end of the day.
But flooding your trees with water doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, overdoing it with the water can kill your tree as quickly as the heat can. Plus, if you water your trees in the middle of the day, you don’t actually help the tree at all-a lot of the water evaporates, so you have to water your tree for much longer to get it the water it needs.
To keep your tree healthy, water it after sunset and before sunrise-no earlier than 10 p.m. and no later than 6 p.m. This watering schedule will ensure your tree’s roots absorb the water they need. Remember that your trees have different watering needs, so talk to a gardener or do some research to find out how much to water each individual tree. In general, trees only need a few inches of water each night.
Remember that new trees usually need more water than older, established trees. Take extra care to nurture your new trees, or else they won’t survive the hot season.
2. Take Care of Your Trees
While they’re busy fighting heat and drought, your trees don’t have energy to spare on dead or dying branches. They also won’t resist pests as well as healthy trees would during a cooler, wetter, more typical summer season.
During a period of drought or excess heat, pay special attention to your trees and stay up-to-date on any problems. Contact your arborist about removing dead or dying trees and treating pest infestations as soon as you notice any signs.
You should also address tree problems preemptively. Schedule seasonal tree care with your arborist so he or she can identify and treat minor issues before they blossom into huge problems that the drought magnifies.
3. Understand How Placement Affects Trees
Even older trees need extra water when they’re located in the wrong spot. For instance, some areas of your house get hotter than others, especially the lawn next to the road or driveway. These trees’ roots can struggle to maintain a healthy temperature during the hottest days.
Pay extra attention to trees in this area. Look out for warning signs like limp or yellow leaves, and give your trees a little extra water at night.
You should also look out for trees on the west side of the house that are exposed to the sunlight through most of the afternoon. If you have any concerns about these trees, talk to your arborist about giving trees near hot areas more attention.
4. Plant Drought-Resistant Plants
Are you planning a new landscaping project? Do you want to start saving money on your water bills, or are you worried that you need to acclimate your yard to a warmer climate? You might consider planting drought-resistant plants.
Plants like aloe and agave don’t need to be watered very often, and they still look green and beautiful in a xeriscaped yard. You can add a splash of color with bougainvillea trees, trellises, and bushes. Frangipani (or plumeria) trees have beautiful white blossoms, and herbs like rosemary don’t require much watering but smell wonderful and enhance your cooking.
Some drought-resistant trees don’t do well in Florida’s humid climate, but you can look into trees like the Leyland cypress, honey locusts, and gingko trees.
Native trees and plants tend to resist heat and drought better than non-native trees. Try blanketflower (or gaillardia) to enjoy the bright yellow and pink petals. The flowers also attract butterflies that beautify your garden.
Help Your Trees Flourish
A hotter summer doesn’t have to spell disaster for your trees. Instead, follow the tips above and talk to our expert arborists to get more advice on keeping your trees healthy all year long, no matter the weather.