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How to Spot and Treat Frost Damage on Red Maples

signs of damaged red maples

Do your red maples look like this? They may be suffering from frost damage.

Many Maryland landscapes have red maples or other trees and shrubs that provide beautiful foliage and desirable growth traits throughout the year. However, this year many of these trees and shrubs are showing signs of frost damage. This can happen with red maples, which are quite sensitive to cold temperatures when a late-season cold event occurs after the tree has already begun to produce new growth. This spring has contained unusually cold temperatures, which may be the cause of any signs of frost damage now. But how can you spot frost damage? And when you find it, what are your options? Read on to find out more. 

How to Identify Frost Damage on Red Maples

damage to red maples

Damaged red maple leaves appear to shrivel.

Frost damage can appear on maples as a shriveling and browning or blackening of the foliage. Leaves may fall from the tree, and you may spot branch dieback. If significant branch dieback occurs, this leaves the remaining branches and trunk exposed to more sunlight. This can result in a higher susceptibility to sunscald and other problems. A frost-damaged red maple will often begin to produce new growth from the surviving branches within a few weeks, but this new growth is often weak. 

When to Prune

Shortly after frost damage on red maples becomes apparent, pruning is recommended as long as no more cold spells are anticipated. Injured or dead portions of the tree will be cut back so that no stubs are created. During the first growing season after the damage, shoots growing vertically or toward the center of the tree are pruned out. You will have to remain diligent about pruning damaged or weak growth of the maple tree. Returning your tree completely to pre-damaged conditions could take a couple of years. 

Practicing Cultural Care

Encouraging new growth in your red maple helps it recover from the cold injury and helps the tree resist pests and diseases. A layer of mulch over the root zone will help the injured tree by regulating the soil temperature and conserving soil moisture. The tree should be watered regularly if there is no natural rainfall.  If the tree has low fertility, a slow-release fertilizer may be appropriate. 

How to Prevent Future Cold Injury

If frost is anticipated, draping a sheet or blanket over the tree may help trap heat close to the tree. If you want to know the best tactics for your red maple, consult with Scientific Plant Service for the best treatments to preserve the health of your tree. 

Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare

Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.

We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

This entry was posted on Friday, May 29th, 2020 at . Both comments and pings are currently closed.