Do Trees Die in the Winter? What Girard, OH Residents Should Know

Starwood Tree Service, your go-to team for professional tree removal in Girard, OH, handles all types of tree-related projects in the area. This is the latest in our series of commonly asked questions about your trees. 

Do trees die in the winter? Keep reading to find out.

It’s Not Tree Death But Dormancy

Trees don’t die in winter each year—they go dormant. While it may seem like semantics, there’s a clear process involved in dormancy that’s very different from the tree dying.

If you know anything about biology, you’ll understand that dormancy is a defense mechanism. Winter’s shorter days and low levels of rainfall mean the tree won’t get all it needs. So, it’s better for the tree’s systems to rest awhile.

How Trees Survive

Tree dormancy is a winning strategy, but not the only one. After all, evergreens don’t go dormant, and they make it through winter unscathed. Let’s look at how trees survive. 

Bark Insulation

The textured surface is tough and protects the inner cambium layer against cracking and freezing. The natural cracks and crevices in the bark also provide protection, as this layer can expand and contract to a certain extent. 

Trees in colder areas also adapt the color, density, and texture of their bark. For example, the tree changes these details to reflect more light and disperse heat, making it easier to survive. 

Leaf Drop 

The leaves dropping off is a main reason people ask, “Do trees die in the winter?” While it looks bare, as though the tree has died, this is only the plant’s way of preserving resources. 

If it powers down a little, it won’t matter that the tree has access to less sunlight during the winter days and cannot produce a lot of energy. 

Needle Leaves With Resinous Sap

Trees with this type of leaf can keep them all year because the leaves’ small surface area prevents water loss due to evaporation. The needles have a wax coating that holds moisture in. So, the only needles dropping are the old, damaged ones. 

Evergreens protect themselves from the inside as well. The resinous sap they have doesn’t freeze and prevents the needles from freezing. 

Trees Acclimatize

Trees can adapt to progressively cold conditions, slowing down as the days get shorter. They enter a dormant state, which means a tree’s lowest levels of activity happen during the coldest periods. When cells dehydrate, their concentrated sugar crystalizes, making them hard and glassy but better able to resist the cold. 

This is why it’s deadly for trees to react to unseasonably warm weather. They might kick off normal processes to prepare for spring, but new growth will die very quickly with the next cold snap. This phenomenon can also cause cracks in the bark, which can prove fatal. 

What Happens If Trees Can’t Adapt?

In the unlikely event that a tree can’t cope during dormancy, it will die. In extreme cases, the trunk and branches might even explode due to freezing. 

For example, if a plant isn’t acclimatized as yet, the sap still flows through it freely and could freeze. If it does, the water content expands, puts pressure on the bark, and might explode outwards.

If you’re concerned, wrap the trunk in a blanket during the coldest spells. You might also tent saplings during the night to help them retain more heat. 

Contact Us to Help You Winterize Your Trees

Do trees die in the winter if you don’t cover the trunk? Whether you need to know the reasons why a tree dies on one side or winterize your precious trees, we can help. 

Call Ohio’s Starwood Tree Service at 330-231-5022 to schedule a consultation today!

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