Alliance for Community Trees News

What Happens When Trees Bud Too Early?

By Conni Kunzler | March 13, 2017

Source: Davey Blog, “What Happens If Trees Bud Too Early?

Kent, OH (February 28, 2017) – In many parts of the country, temperatures are inching up into springtime temperatures — and then back to winter. What does all of this mean for urban trees? Is it okay if trees start budding when it’s technically still winter? The Davey Blog answers.

Mother Nature’s mixed messages aren’t just throwing you for a loop. Your trees are likely just as confused. In fact, you may have noticed trees budding or even blooming because the “winter” weather seems so much like spring.

Why do trees bud in winter?

Every year, trees maintain a set growth cycle, and they rely on the weather to keep them on track. Certain trees need to rest in cool temperatures before they can safely produce new growth in spring.

When the dormant season is interrupted by unseasonal elements, trees begin to grow as though spring has arrived. They start sprouting leaves, flowers and fruits–no matter how short the resting period was.

What’s the problem with trees budding too early?

Early blooming can be extremely stressful for trees, especially if temperatures are mild one day then plunge the next. When this happens, new growth is shocked by the sudden freeze and could be damaged.

Fruit and flower buds are especially vulnerable. If they’re hit by cold temperatures after flowering, they may not be able to bloom again later in the year because they’ve already exerted their energy.

Leaf buds are more likely to bounce back. But they may experience less growth or leaf problems, like leaf drop or browning.

If the temperature doesn’t drop again, your tree’s growth should be okay! Though, be on the lookout for pests that skated through winter without cold weather killing them off. Give your tree a full inspection for early pest symptoms.

What can I do if my tree is budding in winter?

With a little TLC, trees can merge back into their typical growth pattern.

Use these tips to help your trees cope and survive the onset of early temperatures in winter:

  • Mulch the tree if the ground isn’t frozen to keep it insulated until spring arrives.
  • If you see a drop in temperature in the forecast, thoroughly water your tree the night before.

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