Questions From The Plant Clinic: Hurricane Tree Selection
Many of the questions coming to the Plant Clinic since Hurricane Irma are concerned with tree pruning and hurricane tree selection after a storm. I recently taught a whole class on how to prune after a hurricane, based off of many of the wonderful PowerPoints found on the UF/IFAS website Trees And Hurricanes. The resources on that website should answer most of your hurricane tree pruning questions, but you can always contact the Seminole County Master Gardener Plant Clinic at 407-665-5550 for more help.
Hurricane Tree Selection: What to Plant
If you have decided it’s time to replace some of your older wind damaged trees, you may be wondering what should replace them. Between 1992 and 2004 the University of Florida did a study on which trees in the state saw the least damage after the Hurricanes. Their results can be found in their entirety at this [link]. Table 4 highlights their findings on the most wind resistant trees for the state of Florida. I went ahead and crosschecked that list with the list of Central Florida trees found [here], to bring you this very short list of trees considered wind resistant in Central Florida:
- Ilex cassine, dahoon holly
- Lagerstroemia indica, crape myrtle
- Magnolia grandiflora, southern magnolia
- Podocarpus spp, podocarpus
- Quercus virginiana, live oak
- Taxodium ascendens, pond cypress
- Taxodium distichum, bald cypress
This list does contain some really wonderful trees, from great shade trees to beautiful specimen trees. If they are pruned correctly right from the start they are much more likely to survive hurricane force winds than our more wind sensitive trees. You can read more about each tree through the links provided and if you have any further questions on them, reach out to the Seminole County Master Gardeners!
Hurricane Tree Selection: Planting Considerations
When you are selecting your new tree take into consideration where you are planting it. The area where you plant your tree should be at least 20 feet from your home and drive way for the larger trees on this list and at least 15 feet for the smaller trees. This is to prevent the root systems from destroying foundations and concrete driveways as the trees grow larger. It also gives the roots room to grow and anchor the tree – key for wind resistance during a storm!
Look up, down, and all around when deciding where to plant. If there is a power line the tree might grow into, don’t plant a shade tree there! If you have a very wet yard, pick a tree that can grow in wet situations, like a bald cypress or pond cypress. Trees that are forced to grow in a wet situation that are not adapted to it will produce shallow roots and be at risk of blowing over during a major storm. If there are other trees competing for light around where you want to plant your new tree, keep in mind it will grow toward the light and may start to lean in a particular direction!
In the end the wind resistant trees will still do better when planted in a good spot, given regular care, and with proper pruning right from the start.
Contact the Plant Clinic
The Seminole County Master Gardener Plant Clinic is open Monday – Friday from 9am-Noon and 1pm-4pm. For more information on how to contact a Master Gardener about your gardening questions, visit our website at this [LINK].