En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - November 21, 2009

From: Roswell, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Treating cuts in tree trunks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have two young trees that deer made bad cuts in the trunks. What can we put on cuts to keep bugs and disease from getting in them.? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Treating cuts and wounds in trees by applying wound dressing is a controversial subject. We in Texas with a high incidence of oak wilt disease, a fungal (Ceratocystis fagacearum) disease carried by nitidulid beetles, are urged to paint all wounds on oak trees to prevent infection; however, there are many horticulturists (e.g., Chalker-Scott from Washington State University and the Master Gardeners Program from Penn State Cooperative Extension) who say that painting wounds may be more harmful than helpful by trapping moisture and encouraging rot and fungal growth. Your own University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service recommends NOT using wound paint after tree pruning since it is likely to disrupt the tree's natural ability to compartmentalize the wound area and seal it off.  They recommend, instead, that you minimize mechanical damage to the tree.  With that in mind, Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that you put up a physical barrier to protect your tree trunks from deer antler damage.  Here are some commercial products that will do the job and also suggestions for making your own.

Sentree Treeguard

Wraparound plastic tree guards

Corrugated plastic tree guards

Miracle Tubes

You can also make your own using heavy duty plastic mesh or metal wire (chicken wire or hardware cloth) from the hardware store. You will need to check frequently to be sure the guard hasn't become tight around the tree as the trunk expands. Also, you should be sure the guards offer plenty of ventilation so that moisture doesn't build up between the guard and the trunk or so that the guard doesn't provide a area for insects to collect.  Here is an article from University of New Hampshire, "Tree Guards for Tree and Shrub Protection" with instructions for making tree guards.  Their guards are geared towards smaller animal (rodents and rabbits) damage, but the height of the guard could be increased for deer. 

Another option is to build a small diameter (2-3 feet) fence around each tree using metal fence stakes and wire mesh. How practical this option is probably depends on how many trees you need to protect.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Willow woes in Philadelphia, NY
August 22, 2010 - I have a 2 yr old willow; it is August and it looks like the tree has gone dormant, is this normal?
view the full question and answer

Rust spots on non-native red tip photinia
July 10, 2008 - I live in Oklahoma and my red tips have rust spots on leaves and some plants are losing leaves. This is a clay soil; can you give me any info. on how to solve this problem?
view the full question and answer

Mildew in Phlox paniculata
October 13, 2008 - I planted garden phlox (phlox paniculata) in my front landscaping and it is suffering from mildew. It is wet on that side due to a down spout and it may benefit from being split. Does anyone know of...
view the full question and answer

Restoration of mistflowers suffering from wet season
June 27, 2007 - I have planted gregg's mistflower in a bed that receives morning sun and afternoon semi-shade. It was beautiful and covered with blooms and butterflies this spring, but suddenly has become brown and ...
view the full question and answer

Care for heritage roses
October 07, 2007 - Dear Mr. SmartyPlants, I took some cuttings from an antique rose my grandmother had.I had good luck , had some of them grow for me. Some of them have blooms and others are long and lanky stems but n...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center