Ray Ridlen: Wait and see before removing trees

Oklahoman Published: May 3, 2014
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Well, I believe spring has finally arrived as I write this article 10 days prior to publication.

First, I received numerous calls this past winter concerning Deodar Cedars, Live Oak and Magnolia trees. Deodar Cedars are native to the Himalayan Mountains, which would lead you to believe they are cold tolerant. In referencing Carl Whitcomb’s “Know it & Grow it III,” I discovered they are a Zone 7b tree, which is marginal for here. My recommendation to homeowners is to wait and see how much die-back has occurred and what portion of the limbs will bud back out before making decisions on tree removal.

I remember back in 1983 when we lost all of the Deodar Cedars in Oklahoma City due to a hard freeze in mid-December and it remained below freezing for more than two weeks. At that time I believed the death of the trees was not so much the cold, but the sudden temperature swing. We did not have much of a fall that year. It was in the 80s on the weekend and by Wednesday it was 16 degrees.

For the next 20 years, no Deodar Cedars were planted. As time passed, memories faded, and a new generation of landscapers entered into the industry and Deodars were reintroduced into our yards. We did not lose every cedar this past winter like we did in 1983, but we had enough loss and damage that it might slow down their re-introduction.

Live Oaks are another tree that we are growing on its northern limits as a Zone 7 tree. I do not believe that we lost any Live Oaks, but the cold blasted a lot of leaves off the trees. Like the Cedars, I am recommending homeowners take the same wait-and-see approach with these trees and see what and how much if the limbs bud and leaf out. I feel we will see considerable die-back on some of these trees.

Magnolia trees are another tree that had a hard time this winter. They are a Zone 7 tree that probably suffered more from the dry soil conditions than the cold weather. I would recommend that they be given Epsom salts at the rate of 1 pound per 10 foot of canopy spread and ammonium sulfate fertilizer at the rate of 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

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