Recently, our team at Jackson Tree Service has started offering plant health care services to our St. Louis community. But we know that you might be wondering, “why would my plants need health care?” or maybe even, “what is plant health care?” Well, you’re not alone. Under the umbrella of plant health care are all the services aimed at keeping your plants healthy and restoring them if they’re unwell. Essentially, plant health care has the same goals as any other type of health care.
And yes, we know that trees may appear impervious to hardship and disease. But trust us: trees can be unhealthy in as many ways as any other living thing. That’s why plant health care is so important, and why we’ve put together this list of the top reasons you might need the help of a plant health care specialist.
I. Preventative Care
As with human medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, keeping your trees healthy is far easier than nursing them back to health – not to mention less expensive and less time-consuming.
Because preventative care is so important, we at Jackson Tree Service recommend scheduling annual tree assessments. These are analogous to physical exams in that your provider will holistically evaluate your tree. He or she will diagnose any existing health issues with your tree, and may also identify risk factors that could lead to problems down the road. Risk factors may be anything from alkaline soil pH to improper mulching.
Annual assessments like these will ensure early detection of tree health issues, giving you ample time to seek treatment or mitigate risk factors.
If you have many trees on your property, it may be overwhelming to pursue annual assessments for all of them. However, if you have trees that hold particular sentimental or aesthetic value, we encourage annual inspection. Doing so will contribute to your tree’s longevity and minimize costs in the long run.
II. Emerald Ash Borers
Emerald Ash Borers (EABs) are an acute threat to trees in the midwest. They can kill healthy ash trees within one to two years after infestation, and they spread notoriously quickly. Their potency in the St. Louis area makes them one of the likeliest reasons you may require plant health care services for your trees.
The emerald ash borer is a metallic green beetle that feeds on the outer bark of ash trees. However, the real risk comes from the beetle’s larvae. The larvae bore into the tree and feed on the inner bark, damaging the tree’s nutrient transport system and preventing proper water uptake. As a result, trees experience dieback and bark splitting.
You should contact a plant health care specialist if you notice any of the signs of an EAB infestation. Symptoms include thinning of the ash tree crown, presence of suckers near the base of the tree, tunnel tracks underneath the bark, and D-shaped holes where beetles have exited. Trees infested with EABs may also attract an unusual number of woodpeckers who feed on these bark-boring pests.
Luckily, there is a treatment for EAB infestations. The procedure consists of injecting the ash tree with an insecticide which is then transported throughout the inner bark of the tree, killing both the adult and larval beetles.
This procedure is also effective as a preventative measure. After injection, your ash tree will be EAB-resistant for up to two years. Considering how pervasive and destructive emerald ash borers are, we recommend seeking preventative treatment for any ash trees on your property.
III. Rapidly Growing Trees
Trees that grow quickly are typically in good health. But excessive top growth can be difficult to maintain and may block your home’s views. Luckily, plant health care specialists can limit tree top growth while maintaining – even enhancing – the overall health of your tree.
By applying a growth regulator solution, plant health care specialists can slow foliage growth of your tree. The regulator solution directs the tree’s energy away from extremity growth and into root formation. It also promotes chlorophyll production, which helps your tree absorb light and gives its leaves a green, healthy appearance.
We recommend use of plant growth regulators for a few reasons. First, doing so is much less expensive than pruning your trees every year. It’s also much less traumatic for your trees than having limbs removed. Finally, root growth is essential for your tree’s longevity. In fact, we even have customers who seek growth regulator treatment primarily for their impact on the health and aesthetics of their tree, not necessarily its amount of top growth.
IV. Oak Galls
Oak galls, like emerald ash borers, are particularly pervasive in the midwest. Unsightly and persistent, these tumor-like growths form in reaction to non-stinging wasps. When wasps lay their larvae on the leaves or branches of trees, they release a hormone that causes the tree to grow abnormally and enshroud the wasp eggs.
While oak gall treatment won’t immediately remove existing galls treatment will prevent new gall growth. Over a two-year period after treatment, we have seen galls hollow out and fall off the oak tree. The procedure involves a trunk injection and must be administered by a licensed applicator. Most plant health care providers will be licensed to perform the procedure.
Oak gall injections can protect your tree from gall formation for up to two years. Since the injection requires regular reapplication, your bi-annual appointment is a great time to also ask your provider for a general tree assessment, during which they can evaluate the general state of your trees and answer any questions you may have.
V. Failure To Thrive
There’s no doubt that treating trees is vastly different from treating humans. But, just like you would take a sick child to the doctor, so should you contact a plant health care specialist if your tree is sick.
We mention this as the final reason for seeking plant health care because we’ve discussed a few specific, acute ailments a tree can face. But there are certain situations where your tree may be simply failing to thrive, and you have no idea why. In fact, unless you keep fairly informed about tree health, this will likely be the case.
So, we want to encourage you to contact a tree health specialist in any situation where your tree just doesn’t seem well. Most plant health experts, like yours truly, will perform an evaluation to determine the cause – or causes – of your tree’s affliction. We’ll then help you identify treatments we can perform or measures you can take to restore your tree to health.
At the end of the day, trees are susceptible to a number of health risks, just like any other living thing. Plant health care is a response to this simple fact. As plant health care experts, we want to expel the notion that trees are as impenetrable as the rocks and earth. Trees are living things that need care, just like smaller shrubs and even pets.
Here we discussed a few reasons you might need help from a plant care specialist, but there are, of course, many more. If you’re in need of plant health care, give us a call or visit our page on plant health care services.