How Badly Does Late Spring Frost Damage Trees?

By Ann Sanders | Protecting Plants

late spring frost damage trees

One of the most common misconceptions about the weather is that frost only happens during the winter season. As much as we want this to be true, frost can actually also occur during the spring season. During the early stage of spring, the temperature starts to warm up again as trees start to bloom.

​However, a frost can unexpectedly arrive in the late period of spring and lead to plant shock. So, how much can a late spring frost damage trees? More importantly, what can you do about it? Here, we look at the possible actions you can take to protect your trees from the onset of a late spring frost.

​Identifying The Trees

As we now know, spring season could either be beneficial or bad for your trees. On one hand, we’ll have warm temperatures and long days indicating that the winter cold is over. Then again, a sudden frost and storm will stress out your trees as they are already moving away from their dormancy stage. However, which trees should you be concerned about the most?

late spring frost damage trees

​You see, not all trees will be severely damaged from a late spring frost. Because some leaves that bud and grow fast enough are relatively unaffected by the sudden dip in temperature. These hardy trees include crab apple trees, silver maple trees, lilac trees, and linden trees.

​Still, some trees do not bloom as fast and do not develop frost-tolerant leaves quickly. These trees prone to late spring frost include apple trees, magnolia trees, dogwood trees, and flowering cherry trees.

​Extent Of The Damage

So, how bad is the late spring frost? While it can cause damage to the leaves and flowers that have just begun to grow and blossom, respectively, the sudden arrival of a late spring frost won’t likely to kill your trees. Likewise, the chances of it causing long-term damage are not high.

Extremely cold weather for a long time is bad, but a late spring frost won’t last enough to wreak havoc on your trees. As long as your trees are not recovering from previous frost damage, they should be able to recover from a late spring frost.

​Signs Of The Damage

late spring frost damage trees

But how to realize your tree is damaged? In general, trees do not react the same way when they are exposed to late spring frost. However, there are some common signs that you should take note of. Some of these signs include dry leaves, discolored leaves, shriveled leaves, and leaves that fall earlier than expected once the temperature becomes warmer.

​Do not be gravely concerned about your trees if they have been hit by late frost. It’s common for homeowners to be shocked once they see the effect of it on their trees. Luckily, the damage is primarily on the aesthetic appeal of your trees. Moreover, growth and recovery will occur as soon as possible. Your trees might not grow at their most optimal state, but the effect won’t last long to go over the next season.

​What To Do With Damage Trees?

If you notice any of the aforementioned signs of late spring frost damage, there’s actually nothing that you can do. Your trees will recover on their own as the aesthetic damages are reduced in time. Still, you can strive to take better care of your property to ensure the good health of your trees all year long. As long as they are healthy, the trees will become better prepared for frost.

​One of the things you can do is to prevent yourself from overwatering your trees, especially if they are located in heavy clay soil. In addition, you should begin to prune any dead branches, but only if you are sure that no more frost will arrive. Once you’re done pruning, you can begin to apply a fertilizer to help the trees grow. Also, you must water your trees deeply. The roots of trees need the water to reach their depths in the soil.

In conclusion, late spring frost is indeed something that happens every once in a while. However, you should not be incredibly worried. The damage is not going to last and it is mostly just at the aesthetic level. Furthermore, there are trees that are quite tolerant to late spring frost.

We hope that this article helped you in understanding the effects of late spring frost. If you have any questions, do give us a comment.​

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About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...