How to whitewash tree trunk in Spring

10 min readJul 6, 2021
How to whitewash tree trunk in Spring
How to whitewash tree trunk in Spring

Our garden is a living organism that also needs to be protected from adverse external influences. All spring work in the garden is done to protect it, and this includes pruning, spraying, feeding, watering, and other activities.
The list of protection works also includes the spring painting of the central trunk and skeletal branches of the fruit trees, and this article will describe how to do this for the whitewash tree trunk.

Whitewashing protects fruit trees: preventing excessive spring heat and sunburn (not the leaves that have not yet grown) helps to eliminate a significant portion of the pests and diseases that protect the offspring for a successful winter.
Keeping the tree’s external mulch in a healthy state is an opportunity to prolong its fruiting period, get rid of pesticide treatments, and obtain an ecologically clean harvest. Timely and proper whitewashing will protect plants from rodent damage, bark cracking, and delayed flowering for a certain period of time, rather than saving them from spring frosts and other negative effects.

Many gardeners use whitewashing as a decorative act, saving it for the May holidays. At the same time, it is a very important maintenance procedure that should be done several times a year for the continued health of the trees. Based on years of experience, it is necessary to whitewash the trees three times a year. Twice is enough if a special long-lasting whitening agent is used.
1. The main whitewashing is considered to be autumn whitewashing, which is carried out after the leaves fall off and a steady cold snap occurs (around October-November).
2. The whitewashing is repeated in spring, before the buds bloom, or rather — before the stable vernal equinox (second half of February — March, in colder regions — until mid-April).
3. The third summer whitewashing is considered additional and is performed much less often, although it is necessary as a protective measure against pests (egg-laying, larvae emergence) and diseases (growth of mycelium in bark cracks, invasion of winter spores).

In spring, as the sunny days begin, the dark trunks and scaffolded branches are heated to 46–53°F (8–12°C), the temperature at which the sap begins to flow. Do you remember, “… Here comes the spring rumble, here comes the spring buzz”?
Nighttime temperatures drop to 32°F (0°C), causing the sap to freeze. By the laws of physics, the sap expands, tearing the internal tissues and causing cracks in the bark, especially in young trees.
White whitewashing reflects sunlight well and reduces the heated temperature. Trees now continue not in their natural state but are forced to rest (no sap flow). They start vegetating and flowering later, which saves not only the health of the trees but also the harvest.
For any reason you miss February-March, it is not too late to whitewash the trees in the first half of April.

Often, you can see how sentimental gardeners whitewash tree holes without preliminary preparation. Following the brush, the dry bark comes off, and the cracks remain unbroken, but from a distance, it looks beautiful. This whitewashing will only bring harm to the garden. All preparations and whitewashing itself should be done only in dry weather.

A. Preparing fruit trees for whitewashing
Clean debris from the soil in the canopy area.
1. Cover the soil with a film under the canopy so that diseased bark, moss, lichens, and winter pests do not enter the soil.
2. Use a wooden (or plastic) scraper to clean old bark, moss, and lichen from the trunk and skeleton; do not work with metal tools (other than a saw) to avoid injury to the wood.
3. If the bark is tight against the trunk, deep cracks are clearly visible, it is necessary to clean the cracks with a stick with a rounded or curved end, covered with garden varnish, paste, or other ingredients.
4. Carefully inspect the trunk, all skeletal branches, and repair hollows and cracks everywhere, and prune the crown as necessary.
5. Burn aluminum foil waste away from the garden.
After cleaning trunks and branches, disinfect the cleaned surfaces. Disinfect only when the weather is dry. If it rains after the treatment, repeat the treatment.
Disinfection is carried out by spraying with a fine-mesh sprayer. This is a better option than whitewashing with disinfectant, which rolls off the smooth bark and may not reach the cracks.

B. Solutions for disinfection
A solution of copper or iron alum is the best known and acceptable to all gardeners. Prepare a 3–5% solution at a rate of 300–500 grams of drug per 2.5 Gal (10 liters) of water. The cup of roots is dissolved in a small amount of hot water and then added to the desired volume.
The solution is sprayed on the trunk and skeletal branches of the tree. If the tree is “sleeping”, the same solution can treat the entire crown. If the buds are swollen, the crown is treated with a 2% solution to avoid burning the asexually reproducing buds.
Treatments with iron or copper sulfate should be repeated only after 4–5 years, as the preparation will gradually be washed into the soil and accumulate there, causing soil poisoning and plant death.
You can use nitrofen, a copper sulfate analogue instead of copper sulfate for disinfection. Pesticides are only used in very neglected gardens because the concentration of copper sulfate in the drug is so high that when washed into the soil, it has significant negative effects on the organism, including beneficial ones.
A 3% Bordeaux mixture can be used instead of copper sulfate and nitrobenzene.
Fungicide Abiga-Pik can also be used to treat tree holes and bracket branches. The preparations are dissolved in water and used to treat trees as recommended. Their application during this period is not harmful to future harvests.
Some gardeners use common diesel fuel for disinfection. Pure petroleum products should not be used. It is necessary to prepare a less concentrated solution of 9 parts of diesel fuel with 10 parts of water and 0.5–1.0 parts of soap. The combination is mixed thoroughly and sprayed with a pump on the trunk and skeletal branches. It was left for 2–3 days, and then whitewashing was performed.
To disinfect tree holes and trellis branches not only against insect pests but also against fungal diseases, mosses, and lichens, a highly concentrated mineral salt composition can be used.
Dissolve in 2.5 Gal (10 Lb) of water one of these components.
1. 2.2 Lb (1 kg) of table salt.
2. 600 g of urea.
3. 650 g of nitroglycerin or nitroglycerin.
4. 550 g of potassium carbonate.
5. 350 grams of potassium chloride.
These salts can be added directly to the lime solution, combining 2 operations when whitewashing trees.
A good homemade disinfectant solution can be made by soaking in wood ash. To prepare the solution, mix 4.4–6.6 Lb (2–3 kg) of ash with 1.3 Gal (5 L) of water, bring to a boil and leave to cool. The cold solution is filtered, 50 g of dissolved laundry soap is added to make the solution adhere better to the bark, and water is added to 2.5 Gal (10 Lb). Treat the trees with the prepared solution.

Please note! Switch to whitewashing after a period of 1–3 days so that the disinfectant can soak into the bark.

All work related to the disinfection of garden plants with highly concentrated toxic agents must be carried out in accordance with all personal protective measures.

How to do this for the whitewash tree trunk


A. At what age should I start whitewashing the trees in my garden?
A question often faced by beginning gardeners is at what age young trees should be whitewashed. The bark of young seedlings is very fragile and thin, and the corrosive nature of highly concentrated disinfectants and whitewashing agents can cause the bark of young seedlings to burn and crack, just like the rays of the sun.
All garden-grown plants should be whitewashed. But for seedlings and trees, prepare a less concentrated solution. In a separate bucket, the lotion prepared for whitewashing is diluted two times with water. Instead of lime whitewashing young trees, you can use water emulsion paint from “Garden Works.” Whitewashing young trees will save the gardener from having to do additional work to protect the trunk from the sun’s scorching rays that destroy the integrity of the thin bark.

B. Preparation of whitewashing solution
The whitewashing mortar is based on 3 basic ingredients to which various additives are added
1. white pigment (lime, chalk, water emulsion, or water-dispersible paint)
2. insecticide or fungicide, any other agent that destroys the infection is possible.
3. Any adhesive substrate that does not interfere with the respiration of the bark.
Fillers in the form of clay or manure can be added to the base mortar.
The mortar must contain an adhesive, or the first rain will wash away the protective layer, and all the work will have to be done again. Household soaps, PVA glue, preparations available in specialized stores are used as binders in independently prepared lime mortars.

C. Lime mortar
On the market, lime is sold in the form of solid material, i.e., ablated lime dough.
Experienced gardeners prefer to quench the lime themselves to obtain a fresh starting material. It is most effective in fighting pests, fungi, lichens, and mosses.
To prepare the lime dough, hard lime is diluted in a ratio of 1:1–1.5 parts of water.

To make lime milk, mix 1 part lime with 3 parts water.

Remember! Lime boils when quenched and produces boiling hot water droplets. Therefore, wear protective clothing and goggles when extinguishing the lime. The boiling process lasts for about 20–30 minutes with constant stirring.

Fresh slaked lime can be kept for 7 to 30 days. Fresh slaked lime is very good for whitewashing trunk surfaces.
The concentration of the lime solution is chosen randomly, but the milk suspension (emulsion) should leave clear dense white traces on the surface of the wood. On average, to obtain a whitewashing mortar of 2–2.5 Gal (8–10 L), dilute 2.2–3.3 Lb (1–1.5 kg) of mud into 2–2.5 Gal (8–10 L) of water. Add the necessary ingredients to the prepared lime mortar.

D. Composition of self-prepared whitewashing mortar
All recommended whitewashing compositions are prepared on the basis of 2.5 Gal (10 Lb) of water.
1. 5.5 Lb (2.5 kg) of slaked lime, 200–300 g of copper sulfate, 50 g of laundry soap.
2. 3.3–4.4 Lb (1.5–2 kg) quicklime, 2.2 Lb (1 kg) clay, 2.2 Lb (1 kg) cow dung, 50 g laundry soap.
3. 200–250 g of copper or iron sulphate is added to composition 2.
4. 4.4 Lb (2 kg) quicklime, 400 g copper sulfate, 400 g casein gum.
5. Mineral salts can be added to all previous solutions (refer to article 6).
6. Some gardeners add nitrocellulose, carbendazim, and other insecticides and fungicides directly to the whitewash solution instead of disinfecting it.

E. Industrially Produced Whitewashing Solutions
Specialty stores and other retail outlets offer buyers ready-made garden whitewashing solutions. They contain all the necessary ingredients, including disinfectants and adhesives.
The most popular of the ready-made combinations are garden whitewashing “Gardener”, “water-dispersible coatings for garden trees”. They contain all the necessary ingredients to keep on whitewashing the trees for 1–2 years. It is recommended to use whitewashing agents at an ambient temperature of 41–44 °F (5–7 °C).
The most stable are acrylic compositions: GreenSquare acrylic whitewashing, acrylic coatings for garden trees, and others. The life span of garden acrylics is close to 3 years. However, these compositions limit the entry of air into the surface of whitewashing.
The supply of ready-made whitewashing compositions in stores is increasing every year, and it is possible to prepare your own whitewashing or to buy ready-made whitewashing. The choice is up to the owner.

1. The layer of whitewashing on the trunk and scaffold branches should have a thickness of up to 2 mm. As a rule, 2 layers are applied. The second one is applied after the previous one is dry.
2. The mortar should be uniform and have the consistency of sour cream so that it does not run down the trunk to the ground.
3. Use a wide, soft brush whitewashing from top to bottom to make sure you don’t miss any cracks or scratches in the bark.
4. It is more practical to use a paint gun.
5. trunk painting should be completed to a depth of 1.5–2.5inch (4–7cm), for which the bottom of the trunk should be off the ground. after whitewashing, put the strata back in place.
6. The top whitewashing layer should be white to better reflect the sunlight.
7. For mature trees, whitewashing the entire trunk and 70–80inch (1.8–2m) high 1/3 of the skeletal branches is considered sufficient. Branches covered with lichen or moss, which were previously cleaned out, especially need whitewashing.
8. According to some gardeners, young seedlings will turn completely white. Usually, the trunk and 1/3 of the future skeleton branches turn white.
The owner of the garden has the right to choose the type of whitewashing himself. There is no doubt that whitewashing has a positive effect on garden plants, but there is only one condition: whitewashing must be a tree care system.

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Author: Ms.Geneva
Source: ThumbGarden
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