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Posted on: June 1, 2021

City Corner Column: Arborist tips: Caring for your trees after a historic winter storm

Parks & Recreation Director Jason Alfaro

 Are you still wondering whether your tree will come back after the February freeze? You are not alone. Parks & Recreation has received multiple calls regarding this question, so I’d like to take a minute to address a few tree topics.

Have you seen any type of growth on the tree(s) in question? If you said “yes!” that’s a great start, but it’s not time to celebrate just yet.

If your tree’s leaves look a bit different, that’s OK. Your tree likely won’t have the same leaf structure as it did prior to the winter event. The trees are responding to stress, coupled with any underlying conditions they may have had.

Stressed trees don’t typically show signs until a few years later, and multiple stress factors can cause the tree’s health to decline over time. Most trees will fully recover from the freeze, but others will be on a decline for several years before major problems appear. 

You may start to see smaller leaves growing on the main stems of your tree or in areas you wouldn’t normally see leaves growing. If you see these – don’t cut them! These backup leaves, called epicormic sprouts, only become active in response to major stress. The tree uses them to produce more food. 

If you haven’t seen any leaves on your tree, don’t do anything to the tree yet. Wait a couple more weeks. If you haven’t seen any growth or buds by then, the tree is more than likely dead.

If you do see leaves, be patient and continue to monitor the tree. You may notice some leaves coming from the base of the tree. Unfortunately, that’s a sign that the main tree stem will not survive. This is usually due to damage of the vascular tissue within the tree.

While we may not think we need to worry about watering our trees yet, we should still be ready to provide deep watering to the tree roots at least once or twice a month during the hottest and driest parts of the summer. 

Keep in mind that not all trees have the same response, so it’s a good idea to walk around your trees and inspect for cracks or other damage before making any decision to remove the tree, unless it poses a safety risk. 

If you need further assistance, visit the Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture at www.isatexas.com and click on “Find a Texas Arborist” to have a certified arborist assess your trees. For more information, visit the International Society of Arboriculture at www.treesaregood.org

Let’s take care of our trees together

Flyer for Bringing Nature Home June 30th at 6 at the community center. Tree tips and tricks.I’ll be hosting a public presentation about tree care in partnership with the Victoria County Master Gardeners Association at 6 p.m. June 30 at the Community Center Annex. We’ll be discussing summer tree care tips and tricks.

We’re planning to host more of these community presentations in the future to help residents care for their own trees and landscaping so that our whole city can flourish. We’ll have kids’ activities, so bring the whole family.  I hope to see you there!

Jason Alfaro is an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist and director of the City of Victoria Parks & Recreation. 

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