Can Mistletoe Kill Your Trees?

Trees play a vital role. They provide shade and contribute to fresh air. Their roots keep soil from washing away, and wild animals nest in them. Sometimes trees can seem invincible, but the trees in your yard need special care. If you’ve noticed mistletoe cozying up to your trees, it’s best to remove it now before it becomes an issue. But can something as festive as mistletoe really kill your trees? Here’s what you need to know about mistletoe removal from trees.

What is Mistletoe?

Mistletoe is a bushy plant that grows on a variety of trees, particularly oak, pine, birch, hickory, and apple. It’s a semi-parasitic plant known as a hemiparasite, and it draws water and nutrients from the host tree it attaches to.

Because mistletoe grows very slowly it is not considered an immediate threat to a tree. Although, if left unchecked, over time it can slowly spread to cover the tree. This, of course, weakens the tree by robbing it of essential nutrients that are necessary for its survival.

Technically, the mistletoe itself will not result in the death of the tree, but will instead make the tree more vulnerable to harsh weather conditions, especially drought. The tree is then unable to sustain itself by storing enough water and nutrients to withstand drought conditions. In particular, young trees are especially vulnerable to mistletoe.

The University of Georgia found that trees infected with mistletoe suffered a 66% mortality rate after a severe drought. This was compared with 3% of non-infected trees. All in all, mistletoe creates a weakened immune system, which makes trees susceptible to any kind of sickness or harsh environmental conditions.

Caring for Your Trees

For health, mistletoe removal from trees is essential. It’s best to completely remove mistletoe from your trees as soon as possible, preferably in its early stages of development.

Unfortunately, mistletoe removal from trees is much more extensive than simply removing the visible part of the plant’s structure. Mistletoe can grow inside of tree branches. This can make some pruning necessary as well. However, removing too many branches from a tree can also harm its health.

Professional Mistletoe Removal From Trees

The best way to deal with a tree that has large amounts of mistletoe is to remove the outer mistletoe structure, provide extra amounts of water during drought conditions, and surround the infected tree with a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to conserve moisture. For professional tree services in the Alamo area, contact us at Sexy Trees. Contact us by phone at 925-481-3860, or send a message by clicking here.

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