What Happens to Your Trees in the Winter and How They Survive

Trees tend to do something different each season. During the winter, you won’t notice any buds or flowers growing. Instead, the bare branches just look lonely. Some people believe trees are dying in the winter because of how they look, while others assume that trees hibernate throughout the colder months like bears so they can bloom wildly in the spring. But what are they really doing?

What Is Happening to the Trees During Winter?

Believe it or not, trees actually grow in the winter — or at least their roots do. The trees may appear dormant aboveground, but underground, the roots are hard at work searching for and retaining needed nutrients and growing. So, basically, trees are taking care of themselves, even if it doesn’t look like it. 

How Do Trees Survive in the Winter?

A tree’s best defense is its bark. The bark is rough and protects the tree from a variety of threats like pests, fire, and diseases. During the winter, the dark serves as insulation while also helping to disperse heat.

In addition, the trees are able to sense when winter has arrived. At this time, the trees begin altering their cells to become more tolerant of the colder weather. The metabolism of the tree will also slow down in an effort to conserve energy.

Because the cold temperatures can kill off cells as water freezes during transport to and from the roots and canopies, trees developed a way to ensure the water flow continues even during the winter. The tree produces a certain type of protein that will allow water to freeze between the cells safely. This is ultimately where sap comes from, as the water that remains within the cells after the water has been drawn out to freeze becomes sugary and thick.

As the weather warms up, the trees will reverse all of those internal processes that were previously changed in order to begin growing again.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve learned something new today. Many people don’t realize trees have the capability of surviving the winter all thanks to their cells. Basically, living cells continue to transport water and maintain the tree’s health, and dead cells can freeze due to the season’s lower nutrient and energy requirements.

While trees have certain processes they go through to take care of themselves, this doesn’t mean we don’t need to help them out here and there. If you are interested in learning more about maintaining healthy and vibrant trees or why do some trees look dead in the winter, give us a call.