Is My Tree Dead or Dormant in Houston, TX?

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Trees enter dormancy for various reasons. The most common reason is to get through the winter months. Most deciduous trees “hibernate” in the winter, dropping all their leaves. They do this because the reduced sunlight affects their ability to produce food.

If your tree still looks dormant after the winter months, you may wonder, “Is my tree dead or dormant?” As the premier tree service in Houston, TX, it’s one of the most common questions we get from homeowners in the area. 

Below, we’ll look at the best approaches for checking for tree dormancy or death.

Top Tips for Identifying Tree Dormancy or Death

Some of the best methods of distinguishing dead from dormant trees include the following:

Check for Buds on the Tree

Tree buds signify the growth of new flowers, leaves, or branches on your tree. Unfortunately, a dead tree won’t produce any new buds. So, if you can see buds, your tree is alive.

Do the Scratch Test

The scratch test works great to determine tree health when you find yourself asking, “Is my tree dead or dormant?” All you need for this is to get your gardening knife and cut off the bark in a small part of the tree.

If the underlying layer looks moist and green, your tree is dormant and not dead.

If it looks brown and dry, the tree is probably dying or dead already. In this case, you may need to test somewhere else.

Inspect the Roots

If you’re asking, “Is my tree alive or dormant?” you can get a definitive answer by inspecting the tree roots. Are the roots dry and brown underneath? Can you see mushrooms growing around the base of the tree? Those point to signs of root damage.

A leaning trunk is another visual sign of root damage.

Check the Tree Branch for Flexibility

Healthy tree branches are generally flexible. If you bend the branch and it breaks too easily, it can also indicate a dead tree. This is especially true if the part that broke off looks dry inside.

However, flexibility isn’t always a good test when evaluating signs of a dead tree vs. a dormant tree. Harsh weather can make branches more fragile, and some trees have naturally fragile branches.

Check the Trunk for Damage

Missing bark, deep cavities, splits, and cracks are all possible signs of a dead tree. Pests can continue to feed on trees even when they are dormant. Some lightning strikes are powerful enough to kill the affected trees.

If the trunk has extensive damage and the tree doesn’t look like it will bloom anytime soon, you probably have a dead tree.

Get a Professional Assessment From Your Local Arborists

If you’re still asking, “Is my tree dead or dormant?” after going through the tips above, it’s time to call in the experts.

Call the Monster Tree Service of Northwest Houston at (713) 360-1696 to schedule a professional assessment for your tree. If your tree is dead, our tree removal crew can help you dispose of it to reduce the risk of property damage.