The last few years in Alberta have caused us to grow accustomed to winters being far less brutal than what we remember in past years. But while warmer winters seem like a blessing for us, these higher temperatures in the colder months can be damaging for our tree friends. It might seem like most trees would benefit from the less drastic temperatures, but this warmth also makes it easier for the critters and creepy crawlers to thrive when spring arrives. With less threat from the cold, pests aren’t dying off like they used to, causing the population of pesky threats to become prominent and more sinister for our leafy counterparts. Not only are pests and disease more rampant, but the sporadic temperature can cause our trees to get confused as to when to come out of their dormant state. The constant spike in warmth interrupts a tree’s natural cycle, making it more vulnerable to disease. So what can we do to help?
The best way to help your trees from becoming overrun with pests that have survived the winter is to keep a close eye on them. Make sure you’re watching for changes in their leaves as they begin to grow and look for filiminess, curling, discolouration, or general unhealthiness. Aphids are a common culprit in the destruction of new growth. Look for yellow and red discolouration and curling leaves. If you suspect aphids may have made homes out of your trees, spray the tree down with a direct, strong spray of water to wash away most of those tiny little nuisances. The helpful insects will return to your trees once the water has evaporated and beneficial bugs, such as ladybugs, will get back to work feeding on any residual aphids.
For diseases such as black knot fungus, characterized by dark growth across your cherry tree’s branches, or fire blight, as recognized reddish, scorched-looking and heavily wilted leaves, pruning is the best course of action to take. When pruning trees with contagious diseases such as these, wash your pruning shears between each cut with a mix of 25% bleach to 75% water, as it’s very easy to transfer these infections. Immediately dispose of all the infected branches you remove by taking them straight to the garbage dump in heavy duty plastic bags or safely burning them!
The absolute best way to help your trees against all pests and diseases is to keep them in good health. This means making sure they’re getting enough moisture and fertilizing when needed. Do a little extra for your trees this summer and they will thank you!
Even with all the best intentions, our tree friends can still fall victim to pests and disease. If you have any questions or you know it’s time to call in the experts, give us a ring at 403.262.1666. Our knowledgeable staff will help you find the best course of action to keep your trees at their most vibrant this summer!