Although the Boston area has had significant rainfall and seasonable weather this spring, the impact of last summer’s drought is evident across the majority of landscapes.
Shriveled and scorched foliage last summer led to early leaf drop in the fall, turned into winter desiccation and ultimately caused leaf dieback this spring. Many homeowners are questioning why their plants look ragged this season, and the answer is most likely related to last year’s drought.
Much like humans, trees and plants react slowly to chronic stress
Mature trees have energy reserves they can rely on during rough periods, which makes them able to withstand certain environmental stresses over short periods of time. However, this depletion of resources will often go undetected over the long term due to little or no change in outward appearance, the obvious signifier of tree stress. Once mature trees begin to show visual stress cues, like dieback or needle drop, it means that something has been stressing the plant for an extended period of time.
The effect of last year’s drought on our landscapes is now becoming apparent in many different species of plants, both young and mature. Luckily, we had substantial snowfall and rainfall at the end of the winter and early spring, which closed the precipitation deficit quickly. That should help many plants as the weather begins to heat up again. For some, however, it cannot repair the significant damage that has already occurred.
What can I do to help my trees recover from the heat?
Now that we have reached full leaf expansion, it is very obvious which plants can use some extra attention and which plants should be marked for removal.
- Fertilizing trees and shrubs with a slow-release nitrogen product can help bolster the root system and replace diminished woody tissue to help improve photosynthesis.
- Any compromised plant material should be subjected to more routine monitoring for insects and diseases.
- Under many circumstances, preventative plant health care treatments are a good option to keep secondary issues at bay and help ensure a successful recovery.