To Whiten Or Not To Whiten? Should Trees Be Whitewashed In Spring? Photo

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To Whiten Or Not To Whiten? Should Trees Be Whitewashed In Spring? Photo
To Whiten Or Not To Whiten? Should Trees Be Whitewashed In Spring? Photo

Video: To Whiten Or Not To Whiten? Should Trees Be Whitewashed In Spring? Photo

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Video: Why Do People Paint the Bottom of Trees White? 2023, January

Before starting any work, in my opinion, it is important to understand why you are doing this and what processes are taking place during this. And it doesn't hurt to remember the consequences of your actions. So today I wanted to share my thoughts on such a controversial garden operation as whitewashing trees. I think 99% of gardeners have done this at least once in their lives. In this article, we will analyze what benefits spring tree whitewashing brings (and does it?), And how you can replace it.

To whiten or not to whiten? Should trees be whitewashed in spring?
To whiten or not to whiten? Should trees be whitewashed in spring?

In my school and student years, it was, in general, a mandatory procedure, and during the so-called "Lenin's subbotniks", which means, at the end of April. But to be honest, even then I began to be tormented by "vague doubts." Well, yes, it seems beautiful and elegant, but to the question “why?”, The teacher quite reasonably answered - to kill pests. Although all sorts of insects at that time were already in full swing in the air around the already flowering trees (it was in the south).

Later, having been seriously interested in gardening and reading the literature, I learned that whitewashing also kills disease spores, is a means of protecting trunks and skeletal branches from frost cracks. And you need to do it twice - in autumn and spring. In general, I read a lot of different things, but the real work in the garden put everything in its place, at least in my head. So, in order.


  • Whitewashing against pests and diseases
  • Whitewashing as protection against frost breaks
  • When to whiten?
  • How to whiten?
  • Is there an alternative to whitewashing?

Whitewashing against pests and diseases

It is well known that with the onset of the cold period, many insect pests, and useful ones too, are hammered into the cracks of the rough bark of adult trees and winter well there. Some lay their eggs directly on the smooth young bark. These eggs are protected by a dense shell and tolerate winter well. Spores of many diseases can also winter on the surface and in the crevices of the bark.

This means that whitewashing in the fall may well be beneficial. But only if you clean the old bark a little before whitewashing, removing only the easily removable parts of the bark, and then … ATTENTION! Whitewash the entire tree, from the ground to the top. After all, if you whitewash only, as my neighbor does, to a height of 1 meter, then you will kill any wintering "parasites" at this height. And the rest will survive perfectly and in the spring will begin their harmful activities.

Therefore, to combat them, various drugs and methods have been developed, more or less effective. For example, late-autumn eradicating and early spring spraying with strong solutions of insecticides and fungicides on bare, dormant trees. And whitewashing won't help here.

Whitewashing as protection against frost breaks

For those who are not in the know, frost breakers appear at a time when there are sharp fluctuations in day and night temperatures in nature. Usually, this is the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It all depends on the region and climate, there are places where this can happen even in the height of winter.

The essence of the phenomenon is that in the daytime the rays of the bright sun fall at the right angle on the dark trunks and branches of trees and heat them up strongly. And after sunset, the night frost takes matters into its own hands. Such temperature drops can reach 20 degrees. The bark of trees, as in that song: "It is thrown from a fiery forge into the freezing cold …". And as a result of a sharp temperature difference, it bursts.

What does whitewashing have to do with it? Gardeners are trying to somehow smooth out this temperature contrast, to make it less painful for the trees. We cannot reduce the night frost, but we can reduce the daytime heating of trunks and branches by applying a layer of something white, reflective to them.

Moreover, you can selectively protect from heating, only vertical trunks and branches that are at an angle of about 90 degrees to the rays of the low winter sun and which get very hot.

Now, understanding why you really need to whitewash trees, it is worth discussing when and how it is best to do it.

Whitewashing helps to smooth out the contrast between day and night temperatures, making it less painful for trees
Whitewashing helps to smooth out the contrast between day and night temperatures, making it less painful for trees

When to whiten?

Since the process of the emergence of frost cracks mainly occurs in late winter and early spring (it all depends on the region), it is logical to whitewash the trees just before this period, around the beginning of February. But it is not physically possible everywhere.

It's good if your garden is in the southern region, where thaws occur, and you can get close to the tree, and it is recommended to whitewash it at freezing temperatures. But in the northern regions, where the fallen snow lies around the trees in a thick layer and frosts do not let go for a day, whitewashing should be done ahead of time, in the fall.

By the way, in the southern regions it is whitewashing from autumn that will allow you to sleep peacefully and not worry that you missed the right moment. There is only one, but a big problem. Regular lime whitewashing will not last on the bark until the desired moment, and most likely by the end of winter there will be no protective effect from it.

How to whiten?

There are various options for whitewashing. Someone uses lime, someone more gentle chalk, someone adds clay, straw and manure to create a more durable coating. Someone adds copper sulfate as a fungicide to combat pathogens, someone adds an element of modernity to the usual "old-fashioned" whitewash - PVA glue. This whitewash, indeed, keeps well all winter. And someone boldly uses white water-dispersion and acrylic paints from hardware stores.

However, I would like to note that in all these recipes the emphasis is on the durability of the coating, but no one is interested in how a tree feels under a layer of clay or under a film of PVA glue. After all, as I said, it is advisable to cover with whitewash and bole, and all branches potentially included in the risk zone, and this is a large area.

The tree needs air exchange with the external environment, and all coatings reduce this air exchange to one degree or another. All these whitewash are not natural, but a human-introduced element.

But in garden stores you can also find special garden paints, precisely developed taking into account all factors - not to harm the tree, ensuring air exchange, and to stay on the bark from autumn to spring. I will not list the names so as not to create advertising and anti-advertising, go in and take an interest.

By the way, there is a separate line of discussion about the need to whitewash young seedlings. Some argue that they have a vulnerable young bark and it is this that needs to be protected with whitewashing, and their opponents also base their arguments on the tenderness of the young bark and categorically do not recommend whitening it.

Instead of whitewashing, you can use special garden or do-it-yourself bandages
Instead of whitewashing, you can use special garden or do-it-yourself bandages

Is there an alternative to whitewashing?

Where is the exit? And the way out is very simple and logical, in my opinion. In the same garden shops, special garden bandages made from non-woven material are sold. Being white, they will reflect the sun's rays well, not allowing the bark to warm up, but at the same time they let air through - the bark "breathes".

You say, it's expensive … But you don't buy for one season. Well, you can safely replace the old (or new) agrofibre, cut into long, narrow strips (like bandages) and wrap them around the stems and the necessary branches of the tree. I have been using this method for several years now, with the same stripes.

This protects not only from the formation of frostbites, but also from rodents (hares). The only thing that will be required of you is sometimes to check that such a bandage covers the stem to the ground. Plain thick paper or cardboard, burlap or fabric is also suitable as a sunscreen; such a protective layer is enough for one winter.

The main inconvenience is that during thaws they can get wet and must be removed and dried. In extreme cases, on the south side, a wide board can be leaned against the trunk, which will cover it from the sun's rays.

In general, there are many options. And now that we have understood why whitewashing is needed in the garden, it is already easier for us to make the right choice.

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