Learning to spot the signs of a dead or dormant tree branch is essential for people who want to keep their yards or gardens lush, growing, and healthy. Our landscapers and arborists eliminate hundreds of dead tree branches every day. We are experts in deciding which broken branches and diseased buds to include in our dormant pruning sessions to ensure that trees remain free from fungal growths and pests.
If you’re looking for five-star tree services by ECO Tree Experts in Boca Raton, call our 24/7 hotline, and we’ll give you a free consultation. We can make pruning cuts on branches of deciduous trees, and we’ll ensure that your tree trunks stay clear of the side effects dead branches bring.
In this explainer, our arborists outline how you can tell apart a dormant tree branch from a dying or decaying one. Learning to separate one from the other will help your fruit trees grow healthier and be more productive. It could also save your trees from structural issues as they will not have to carry the extra load of dead bark after pruning.
What Is a Dormant Tree Branch?
Trees, like most plants, can be technically alive but remain dormant for extended periods when the sun does not provide the energy they need or when nutrients from the soil are scarce. Entire trees can remain dormant for months, losing their foliage and some of their branches until winter is over. Dormant trees will stop growing and creating new leaves until the weather gets better, but that does not mean that their barks are dying.
Dormant tree branches are living limbs that are alive but inactive. They will not grow new shoots and might lose their remaining leaves until the tree receives more sunlight, but they are generally safe from death unless the tree contracts a disease. Fungal growth and pest mobility are low in the winter months, so we advise our customers to prune their trees while they are dormant.
Causes of Dormancy
High temperatures and droughts can cause your trees to become semi-dormant or 100% dormant, even in high-growth seasons like the spring and summer. Dormant branches indicate that your trees are trying to conserve energy, water, nutrients, and other resources to stay alive.
If your trees cannot absorb enough moisture from the surrounding soil during dry periods, they may lose up to 100% of their leaves to stop themselves from drying out. Many tree branches might look dead during these seasons, but they are merely waiting for the opportunity to sprout new leaves and return to their original condition.
How To Tell Dead Branches Apart From Dormant Branches
Two tests can help determine whether your tree branches are dead or dormant. Start by finding a tree branch with a twig with a pencil-sized tip. Bend the twig backward on itself at a sharp angle.
If the twig is dead, it will snap without much effort and look hollow inside. If the twig is from a dormant branch, it will be pliable and feel moist inside.
The second test requires using a fingernail, coin, or pocket knife to scratch the surface of the twig. A dormant branch will show a green and moist layer beneath its wooden shell, while a dead one will have a gray, black, or dark brown sublayer.
Get Help From Experienced Tree Maintenance Experts
Cutting off dormant branches can be hazardous to a tree because they are still receiving nutrient-rich tree sap, which attracts insects and other pests. Removing them will wound your tree and invite an invasion. For this reason, our arborists entertain hundreds of questions from residents and business owners about how to tell dormant and dead tree branches apart.
Learn more about tree trimming and pruning services and save every dormant tree branch from elimination by calling the ECO Tree Experts hotline at 833-321-8733 today.