7 Signs of Drought Stress in Trees You Shouldn’t Ignore

Recognizing the signs of drought stress in trees makes it easier to save your trees during dry weather. In this article, Petrarca Landcare, your tree service company in Lakewood, Ohio, explains more about drought stress and how to recognize it. 

signs of drought stress in trees

What Is Drought Stress?

A drought-stressed tree looks much like a normal one in the early stages. Over time, however, the tree begins to ail because it doesn’t get the water it needs. This results in stunted growth, wilting, and a lack of stability.  

The Signs of Drought Stress

There are several signs of drought stress in trees. It’s best to deal with these as soon as possible, particularly with deciduous trees, as the stress can severely damage growth. 

1. Wilting

Wilting is the first sign that the tree is under pressure. The leaves will look limp and may curl up to preserve every inch of water. 

2. Leaf Scorch

Many people confuse leaf scorch with sunburn, but it is due to a lack of moisture. This symptom means that leaves discolor, typically going brown. With pine needles, they will turn yellow instead.

3. Leaf Drop

As the problem advances, the tree loses its leaves prematurely in an attempt to preserve as much moisture as possible. This is dangerous for the tree as it interferes with the process of photosynthesis, but it may prove preferable to the tree dying of thirst. 

4. Small Leaves

Another way that the tree saves water is that it puts out smaller leaves. This is also a result of the tree not having the resources to grow the leaves properly. 

5. Stem Dieback

In the advanced stages of drought stress, the stems begin to die back from the outside inwards. The tree no longer puts out new growth, and the outer limbs start to wither and die. 

6. More Prone to Disease

The tree begins to ail more and more and is less able to fight off disease. Parasites, fungi, and other troublesome diseases are more likely to take hold.

7. Death

The tree will limp on for quite some time before it finally dies. At this stage, the branches will drop off, and the roots will start to lift out of the ground. The tree is at a high risk of toppling over at this stage.

How to Deal with Drought Stress

You might think that the answer is to quickly water the tree, and you’d be partially right. Adding a bunch of moisture at once might do more harm than good because it can leach the soil. It is better to ensure that the tree has enough water per week and keep it up consistently. 

Deeply water the tree weekly until it recovers. Since water is scarce during a drought, you can also mulch the area to retain more moisture.

Call Our Team

Are your tree leaves turning brown, or do you see other signs of drought stress in trees? Contact Petrarca Landcare at (330) 933-0562 for help. 

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