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Tree & Plant Frost Damage Recovery FAQ

Proper Tree Health and Pruning 🕔February 10, 2014

by Moon Valley Nurseries
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After enduring the worst freeze since 1988, many of our customers are asking questions about what to do next. We’ve put together this list for you of our most frequently asked questions regarding frost damage. If we haven’t answered your questions here, always fee free to contact us, we’re more than happy to help!

Fertilizing

What’s the first step I should take?
We recommend immediately applying Supercharged Moon Juice to all trees and plants whether they’re showing major or minor damage as frost damage is not always visible. Supercharged Moon Juice accelerates the recovery process by increase the uptake and retention of moisture and nutrients. It also helps stimulate the growth of root hairs, new stems, and foliage. If you already have some, be sure to begin applying it; if not, Supercharged Moon Juice is now available for online ordering & delivery.

When should I fertilize and what should I fertilize with?
Right now is an excellent time to fertilize, and you should continue to fertilize throughout the spring. Fertilizing will help recover all of your trees and plants, even those that may show no visible signs of stress but that had a tough time making it through the freeze. Our All-purpose Moon Dust fertilizer should be applied monthly from March through October. Supercharged Moon Juice should be added to this regimen, and applied frequently to help recover from the freeze.

Note: Super Palm Juice can be used on all frost-hardy palms now, and for more frost-tender palms (such as pygmy palms) should be applied in March. Super Palm Juice contains the micro & macro nutrients palm trees need to recover from the frost and regain their strength for the summer.

Pruning & Trimming Frost Damaged Plants

When do I prune?
It’s best to avoid any pruning until the last chance for freezing conditions has past, which is usually around mid-February to early March (meaning we’re out of the potential times of the year for freezing).

What happens if I already have/do prune now?
If you prune now, the healthy part of the plant can be exposed to the frost, and will, with future frost exposure suffer enough damage that it may not recover. Also the damaged foliage acts as a protectant from the sun while the plant/tree is recovering.

How much do I prune when I can?
You should prune dead material only, so whatever is grey/brown in color (branches/wood) should be cut. Any leaves that are black, purple or otherwise strongly discolored should be removed

What do I do about wilted leaves/branches?
If a leaf is strongly wilted now, it will turn color in a few days to a week, and you should still wait until March before trimming. Plants will drop old, dead growth to push new, fresh growth.

How do I know if it’s dead?
Tell-tale signs of a dead tree or plant are:
No visible green in any trunk or branch
No sign of any new growth in the coming weeks (the plant maintains or degrades in shape/color)
The tree or plant in question has a pumpkin-like or rotten fruit odor.
Keep an eye on your tree in the coming days and weeks. If wilted leaves do not begin to drop on their own, that’s a sign that the tree will not push new growth, and will need to be replaced.

Replacing or Recovering Frost Damaged Trees and Plants

When can I plant new trees?
Trees & shrubs that are considered frost hardy can be planted now. Frost-tender trees & shrubs should be planted no earlier than mid-February when we’ve been subjected to the kind of frost we’ve just been through. Bedding flowers can be planted now and we’re bringing fresh shipments in weekly.

If I decide to replace my plants, what are the best choices that don’t freeze?
The answer to this question varies heavily on what part of town you live in, so it’s best to check with your local nursery, as our certified nursery professionals are familiar with the different microclimates across the valley and what traditionally does where. They’ll help you make choices based on the size, function, and style you’re looking for, and will be able to recommend cold-hardy varieties that will suit your specific needs.

Lawns, Citrus, Frost Supplies & Other Helpful Tips

What do I do with my frost cloth?
Do NOT throw it away. Frost cloth can and should be reused for many years when stored properly. Let it air-dry, then roll it into a tight roll or fold into a neat square and place it in a cool, dry environment. Avoid putting it in hot places during the summer (like garages or attics) to avoid it from drying out. Properly storing frost cloth will usually let you reuse it for years to come.

What should I do about my lawn?
The answer to this question depends on the type of grass that makes up your lawn. If you are using:
Bermuda Grass – do nothing, it should come back on its own. although applications of Moon Royale and even Moon Green can help expedite this process
Rye Grass or Overseeded Rye Grass – Fertilize with Moon Royale now and water to a depth of 3-4 inches. Do NOT use weed & feed type products – these will put considerable amounts of stress on the lawn and prevent it from regrowing.

How do I know if my Citrus/Fruit is OK?
The fruit is OK if it’s not mushy or split, if the fruit looks fine it should be perfectly safe for consumption.

Note: Before a forecasted freeze, pick the fruit off of your tree. This will not only keep the fruit safe, but help the tree conserve the energy it uses holding on to the fruit for surviving the freezing temperatures, thus increasing the likelihood for survival.

Can I spray a fruit inhibitor on Olive Trees (or any other ornamental fruiting trees)?
Do not use any fruit inhibiting sprays as it can interfere with new growth of trees and plants. Freeze damage often limits fruit growth anyway, so there won’t really be a need for such products.

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Pruning Mature Apples and Pears

Proper Tree Health and Pruning 🕔February 10, 2014

by Pete Lane
Ohio State University Extension
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A good fruit tree should not make a good shade tree. However, when pruning is neglected, many apples and pears become better shade producers than fruit producers. Standard-sized trees often outgrow the reach of ladders or pruning hooks. Backyard and commercial growers have come to prefer dwarf or semi-dwarf trees which are not as tall and are easier to prune, spray, and harvest without the use of ladders.

A neglected but otherwise healthy tree will usually show a marked improvement in fruit quality as a result of pruning. Fruit buds begin developing in the growing season previous to the one in which they mature into fruit, and more are initiated than can be fully developed into fruit. Growing conditions during the season of bud initiation and the subsequent winter will affect the number of buds which flower, and certain cultivars are “alternate bearers” that seldom initiate many buds during a year with a heavy fruit crop. In any case, by late winter the buds for the coming summer’s crop will be very evident. Buds only appear on two or three year-old twigs or spurs which are no thicker than a pencil.

The primary purpose of pruning is to increase sunlight penetration, remove less productive wood, and shape the crown into an efficient, stable form. If left unpruned, the quantity of fruit produced might be greater, but the quality much lower. Pruning increases fruit size, promotes uniform ripening, increases sugar content, and decreases disease and insect problems by allowing better spray coverage and faster drying following rainfall. It also allows easier access for timely harvesting.

The following points apply to pruning all fruit trees:

1. Prune late in the dormant season to minimize cold injury.
2. Prune heavily on neglected trees or vigorous cultivars, less so on less vigorous cultivars.
3. Make all heading back cuts just beyond a bud or branch.
4. Make all thinning cuts just beyond the base of the branch being removed.
5. Avoid pruning too close (See Figure 1.)
6. Don’t prune a “shade tree” back to a fruit tree in one year. Spread the thinning over several years.
7. Wound dressings are unnecessary for trees pruned in dormant season.
8. Match pruning tools to the size wood being removed. Use hand shears for small twigs, lopping shears for medium branches, and a saw for larger limbs.

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Figure 1. Flesh cuts heal slowly; leave the collar.

Visualize a tree as seen from above without its leaves. From the trunk branches radiate out like the spokes of a wheel (See Figure 2.) In order to allow sunlight and spray penetration, and to allow access for harvesting, it is necessary to thin out some of these “spokes.”

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Figure 2. Space scaffold branches to allow access.

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Figure 3. Suggested pruning cuts.

Since our human perspective is a side view, Figure 3 sketches items to consider as one works around the spokes or “scaffold” branches of a tree. They consist of:

A. Suckers or watersprouts are vigorous vegetative shoots which drain nutrients needed for fruit production. They often appear at the base of grafted trees, or in crotches and sites of previous pruning cuts.

B. Stubs or broken branches result from storms, heavy fruit loads, or improper pruning. Diseases and insects may enter the tree at these sites, so they should be headed back to healthy side branches or removed.

C. Downward-growing branches develop few fruit buds and eventually shade or rub more productive scaffold branches.

D. Rubbing branches create bark injury which also invite insects or disease. Head back or remove the less productive of the two.

E. Shaded interior branches develop less quality fruit and limit access for harvest.

F. Competing leaders result when suckers or branches near the top of the tree are allowed to grow taller than the uppermost bud of the trunk or central leader. Head these back or an unbalanced, structurally unsound tree will develop.

G. Narrow crotches occur when a branch develops more parallel than perpendicular to the trunk or limb from which it originates. As each grows, bark trapped between the two interferes with the growth of a strong joint.

H. Whorls occurs when several branches originate at the same point on the trunk or limb. Joints are weaker there, so select the best-located and remove the others.

I. Heading back or growth diversion cuts are used to limit or redirect the growth of the central leader or branches. For limiting, cut back to a weak bud or lateral twig; for diversion cut back to a bud, twig, or branch oriented in the preferred direction.

Backyard trees are rarely over-pruned, but inexperienced growers often procrastinate on pruning for fear of damaging trees. “Topping” or shearing a fruit tree is about the worst thing that can be done, but even that may result in better fruit for a year or two. Ultimately shearing will produce a dense crown that inhibits access for sunlight, sprays, and harvest, and invites weak structure and breakage. As long as pruning cuts are made to remove, head back, or thin as the examples illustrated and discussed, no nightmares are necessary. Don’t use hedge shears. “Just do it.”

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How to Transplant Trees and Shrubs

Proper Tree Health and Pruning 🕔February 10, 2014

by David Beaulieu
About.com
See Article

Transplanting trees and shrubs appears an easy task — deceptively so. Many transplants die due to improper removal or installation. But if you’re about to give a facelift to a landscape design that has been neglected for years, then you will need to move existing plant matter, whether for relocation or for disposal. To do it successfully, you must take steps to improve the likelihood of survival.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 2 Hours

Here’s How:

1. Location, location, location! Prior to transplanting, determine whether the tree or shrub likes sun or shade, and what its spacing and watering requirements are. For instance, don’t locate a plant that craves water next to one that prefers dry conditions: their needs will be incompatible. And to be safe, always make use of the Call Before You Dig number.

2. Dig the new hole before you dig up the tree or shrub. Once you dig up the plant, the longer its roots go without a home, the lower your chances for successful transplanting.

3. Estimate the width and depth of the rootball by doing a bit of exploratory digging around the plant. The width of the new hole should be twice that of the rootball. The depth should be kept a bit shallower, to avoid puddling and consequent rotting.

4. When you reach the bottom of the new hole, resist the temptation to break up the soil beneath. You would think that this would help the tree or shrub, allowing its roots to penetrate deeper. Instead, it could cause the tree or shrub to sink, inviting rot.

5. Dig out the tree or shrub selected for transplanting. But don’t start digging right at the base of a mature tree or shrub. Rather, start digging about 3′ out from the base, all along the perimeter. Get a feel for where the main mass of roots lies. Also begin to judge what the weight will be of plant + roots + soil clinging to roots. You may need someone to help lift it!

6. The idea is to keep as much of the rootball (roots + soil) intact as possible. But the larger the plant is, the chances of getting anything close to the entire rootball will diminish — and you wouldn’t be able to carry it anyhow! Usually you will have to cut through some roots on a mature plant (either with a sharp shovel or with pruners — make a good, clean cut).

7. Once you’ve removed enough soil from around the sides of the plant, you’ll eventually be able to slip your shovel under it and begin to loosen the plant’s grip on the soil below it. After it’s loose, spread a tarp on the ground nearby and gently move the tree or shrub onto the tarp.

8. Using the tarp as a transporting medium, drag the tree or shrub over to the new hole (dug in steps 1-4). Gently slide it into the hole, and get it straight. Shovel the excavated soil back into the hole. Tamp this soil down firmly and water it as you go, to eliminate air pockets. The formation of air pockets could cause the tree or shrub to shift after transplanting.

9. Mound up the soil in a ring around the newly transplanted tree or shrub, forming a berm that will catch water like a basin. This will help you achieve your main objective from here on out — keeping the new transplant’s roots well watered, until it becomes established.

10. Spread a 3″ layer of landscape mulch around the new transplant. But keep it a few inches away from the base of the tree or shrub, to promote air circulation and so as not to invite rodents from nibbling on the trunk. Rodents become emboldened by the cover mulch provides.

11. Then water, water, water. The first summer would be a difficult one for the plant to weather, unless it gets plenty of water. Watering is as essential as anything to success in shrub and tree transplanting.

Tips:

1. When should you do your shrub and tree transplanting? For most trees and shrubs late winter or early spring are the best times for transplanting; fall would be the second best time (I explain in When to Plant Trees). In summer it’s not advisable (too hot). In the dead of winter it’s almost impossible (in the North) — unless you’ve done all your digging ahead of time (before the ground freezes).

2. The time given for this transplanting project is 2 hours. However, that will depend greatly on the circumstances. To dig a mature tree or shrub out of rocky soil (especially in cramped quarters) is back-breaking work. How long it takes you will largely depend on your health and on how much you’re willing to push yourself.

3. Above, I have discussed shrub and tree transplanting that involves digging, moving and re-planting a rootball. This is how you would normally perform shrub and tree transplanting using stock on your own property. However, when you buy plants from nurseries to plant in your yard, there will be some differences in the operation. Some nursery plants are balled and burlapped. Others are sold bare-root, the transplanting of which I discuss in my article on growing roses.
4. One technique sometimes used to facilitate transplanting trees or shrubs of significant size is root pruning.

What You Need:

Pointed Shovel
Tarps
Measuring Tape
Pruners
Garden Hose
Mulch

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Fall Is A Great Time For Planting Trees & Shrubs

Proper Tree Health and Pruning 🕔February 10, 2014

by SavATree
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There is a false perception in the gardening world that fall is the end of the growing season. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Fall is an ideal season for planting trees, shrubs and other assorted plants. The key is encouraging good root growth. Planting trees and shrubs in fall enables the root systems to grow before the hot summer returns.

Smaller plants will be established before winter sets in, and get a head start over shrubs in the spring. Larger plants will also get a head start since a general rule of thumb is one year per one inch of trunk diameter.

Fall officially begins with autumnal equinox in late September. The ideal time to begin planting trees and shrubs is six weeks before the first sign of hard frost. September through November is the ideal time for tree planting because it allows the roots to become established before the ground freezes and winter sets in. However, it is highly recommended that you do not continue planting trees too late into the fall because this can have a negative impact on plant health.

Cooler, wetter weather is the perfect time for tree planting. With an increase in rainfall and cooler temperatures in the fall, less watering is needed. As tree shoot growth halts, the trees require less water because the days are cooler and shorter and the rate of photosynthesis decreases. Stable air temperatures also promote rapid root development. Soils stay warm well after the air temperature cools, also encouraging root growth. During shoot dormancy, trees grow to establish roots in new locations before warm weather stimulates top growth.

There are several benefits to fall planting. Trees planted in the fall are better equipped to deal with heat and drought in the following season. Another great reason to plant your shrubs in the fall is because you can pick your trees and shrubs by the fall color they produce. Avoid planting broad leaved evergreens in the fall such as rhododendrons, azaleas, boxwoods and hollies. If planted, provide them with protection from winter winds and have them treated with an anti desiccant. Some tree species that are recommended for fall planting include the maple, buckeye, horse chestnut, alder, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, ash, honey locust, crabapple, amur corktree, spruce, pine, sycamore, linden and elm.

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How to Prune (Not Kill) Trees and Shrubs 0

How To Videos , Proper Tree Health and Pruning , Tips and Tricks 🕔February 6, 2014
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