Seeing Red Before Fall? Early Fall Color Can Be a Sign of Tree Stress
Vibrant red, orange and gold leaves are one of the best parts of fall. In our neck of the woods, peak color can arrive as early as late September or as late as mid-October. While cities across the Northeast are known for their beautiful fall show it could be a problem when trees show signs of fall before they should.
“Stressed trees often exhibit early leaf color or leaf drop,” says Tony Faoro, an ISA Certified Arborist® at The Care of Trees, a Davey company, Gaithersburg office. “If you see this in your own backyard, your trees may be asking for help.”
Trees with too much/not enough water, those inundated by insects or diseases or plants stressed for other reasons may slow or stop producing chlorophyll. That causes the fall coloring process to speed up and happen prematurely.
“The extreme heat with the lack of steady rainfall has caused premature defoliation and early color on many trees,” Faoro says.”
Check your trees’ leaves to see if they are the right color for the season. Leaves should not be brown or completely yellow just yet–nor should they be wilting or dropping.
Faoro says if your trees are debuting fall color or leaf drop early, you should step in and give them extra attention for the remainder of the season.
A local arborist, like Faoro, could tell you exactly what is stressing your tree out (and how to fix it). Or you can start boosting your tree’s health with these four easy steps.
Four Steps to Keep Trees Healthy
- Only water the area under the tree’s branches, known as the drip zone. One inch per week in the absence of rainfall is usually enough for mature trees.
- For new trees, there’s no specific amount of water they need. Instead, you want to make sure the top 12 inches of soil around the root ball remain well-watered.
- Be sure to check the rainfall before watering, too.
2. Check its water.
- If it hasn’t rained in a few weeks, it’s safe to say you should water.
- New trees should be watered up until the ground freezes.
- Add two to three inches of mulch around the tree to reduce moisture loss and moderate soil temperature.
- Pull mulch back 6 inches from the trunk of the tree in a saucer-like fashion.
- Avoid creating a mulch volcano.
- Fertilize trees as necessary to provide nutrients that may be missing or in short supply.
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