why do people paint tree trunks white

By Bonnie L. Grant
Trees are amazingly adaptable and vigorous, providing protection for us and a host of other species. Young trees need time to get strong and impervious and need a little help from us to survive the first few years. Tree trunk painting is an old-time method to seal trunks and protect them. Why do people paint trees white? Painting tree trunks white has several purposes and can help shield saplings and very young trees from a variety of damage. Find out how to paint tree bark to help minimize insect damage, sunscald and cracked, damaged bark. Why Do People Paint Trees White? Painting tree trunks white is a time honored method of young tree protection often found in orchards and tree farms.

There are several purposes but chief among them is to prevent cracking and splitting of the tender new bark, which can allow introduction of disease, insects and fungus. It is also helpful to highlight insect infestations and may prevent some. There is some debate as to the effectiveness of tree trunk painting. It certainly directs burning sun rays from the tender bark, but the wrong product can cause more harm than good. The proper product to use for tree trunk painting is water-based latex paint. The paint needs to be diluted at a rate of one gallon latex mixed with four to five quarts of water.

A Cornell University study found that a full strength application painted on protected best against borers. Another formulation is one-third each water, latex paint and joint compound, useful for. Never use an oil-based paint, which will not allow the tree to respirate. If rodents such as В are nibbling on your young trees, add a rodent repellent to the white tree trunk paint to prevent their gnawing damage. While some experts say to only use interior paint, others recommend the opposite. Really, as long as it s latex paint, either should work fine. Keep in mind, however, that some paint may contain additives that can be harmful to plants, so check this beforehand.

In fact, looking for one with an organic base may alleviate this concern. Also, in addition to white, you can actually use any light color paint and get the same results just stay away from the darker tones which will absorb heat and cause further sunscald. Once you have mixed your paint mixture, the best method of application is by paintbrush. Tests indicate that spraying doesn t provide adequate protection and does not stick as well to the bark. One single coat is sufficient in all but the most severe conditions. Painting tree trunks white is an easy and fairly non-toxic way to protect your plant from several different problems.

The process is easy, cheap and only needs to be done once per year in extreme weather zones. In "The Garden Primer" (Damrosch), p 422: Apple borers can also kill the tree outright just by tenneling in through the trunk [. ] Painting the trunk with white latex paint diluted to 50 percent will make it easier to spot the sawdust residue produced by the larvae's tunneling. Similar advice is in the Fedco Trees catalog; they suggest mixing white latex paint with joint compound. Another danger to the trunk in winter is sun scald [. ]. You can protect younger trunks from winter sun and wind by wrapping them in burlap or painting the trunks with white paint.

This same advice is repeated in "The Backyard Orchardist" (Otto), p43. She actually says to paint not only the trunk, but scaffolds out to nine inches from the trunk. I'm pretty sure I've seen a mixture of something involving white latex paint to apply to the trunk that is supposed to deter four-legged pests. (I want to say that the recipe had sand in it so that any deer/rodent tasting the bark would get an unpleasant mouth feeling and would avoid the tree, but I can't put my hands on a reference right now. I don't think would show up as white. )