How does bark benefit a tree

Tricks of Nature: Woods in Winter

(GMH / BdB) It often seems bizarre: the trees are powdered white in the garden, the branches are shimmering and coated with ice. And although the calendar always announces it, winter surprises us again and again with its coldness. Snow and frost determine nature. Trees and bushes have a rest period. Your "hibernation" is a completely natural mechanism for surviving the cold season in good health. But how do you protect yourself?

Caption: The bark protects the tree in winter - like a thick coat - from too much cold. (Photo credit: GMH / BdB)

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All native plants have adapted to our seasons with the different conditions. From spring to autumn the trees are adorned with lush leaves and store valuable nutrients with the help of the sun's rays. These then benefit them in the winter months, even if they use less of it.

Caption: The fruits of the snowball are very decorative even in winter. Nature uses a trick and increases the concentration of the cell sap so that branches and fruits do not freeze to death. (Photo credit: GMH / BdB)

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In autumn: the leaves slowly change color and fall off. This does not happen because they are old. The trees evaporate a great deal of water through the leaves. The leaf fall serves to protect against drying out.

Conifers and evergreen trees and shrubs, however, have a thick layer of wax on leaves and needles that protects them from drying out. They give the garden structure in winter, because thin hoar frost or a thick layer of snow provide special accents.

In winter: Snow, ice and low temperatures can be dangerous for trees and bushes. But similar to how a thick winter jacket warms us, branches and trunk are covered with thick bark, which among other things helps to protect against frost. Thanks to the lack of leaves, the bare trees can withstand the snow loads sufficiently. If the foliage under the trees is not removed, it forms a cushion of air and thus protects the roots in the cold season

The plants have developed very complex strategies so that their living cells in the branches and tree trunks do not freeze to death in winter. This increases the sugar content in the branches so that no ice crystals can form.

But sometimes the weather gives the plants a "bargain". Long periods of thaw ensure that trees sprout again in the middle of winter. These buds have no chance of surviving the next frost. Late frosts are also very dangerous for trees and shrubs that have already reduced their frost protection mechanisms at this point in time.

In spring: flower buds that were created before winter are also in a dormant phase. Only when the temperatures rise again is that a sign of their restart. Now the buds become active again. They get a lot of light even without dense foliage on the tree.

Exceptions are winter-flowering woody plants such as scented snowball or witch hazel, which inspire with their bright flowers in snow and ice. These varieties have a very special survival technique, explain the nursery experts. The petals roll up in frost and "bloom" again at higher temperatures.

A wide range of trees and shrubs and further information about tree nurseries can also be found on the Internet at


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Tip: Trees that are firmly rooted in the garden usually survive the winter without major problems. The situation is very different for plants in pots. You should pay special attention to them so that the roots do not freeze to death or the entire plant dries up. If there is no precipitation, an adequate water supply should be ensured in the garden and planted containers even in the winter months on frost-free days.


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