Paint tree trunks

A painted trunk on a young fruit tree

If you live where the sun is strong, one of the more important things you can do to help young fruit trees grow well is to paint the lower part of the tree trunk with white vinyl paint. I had seen it many years ago and I wondered why people painted what looked like white socks on their trees. Having lost trees to sunburn, I now understand.

The white vinyl paint is an inexpensive and easy way to add a reflective extra ‘skin’ to protect the lower part of a tree trunk. Young trees are particularly susceptible to sunburn, especially where the stem is unprotected from the shade of the upper branches. Sun can slowly burn the trunk of young trees, usually on or near to the vulnerable grafting point.  The paint coating can also discourage some chewing pests. If you aren’t sure whether or not your young fruit trees are likely to suffer from sunburn it’s worth painting a protective coat of white vinyl paint just to be sure. (Don’t use oil-based paint. The oil can burn or be absorbed into the plant tissues whereas vinyl will stay on the surface more like a thin sleeve.) And if you live where hot sun is the norm for the summer, don’t wait until the tree is damaged: paint right away just to be sure. This is one more tip to protect your fruit trees so they will grow healthy, beautiful and productive.

If you don’t want to use paint you can find white stretchy tape available in some garden centers that can do the job. Wrap the fabric in a spiral around the tree trunk to give it a sock-like covering. Don’t use a non-stretching material or a solid plastic or rubber. These will not allow air penetration or growth and can harm your tree. Paint is the easiest, longest-lasting solution, but it isn’t the only way to protect your fruit trees from sunburn.

Sunburn is likely to crack the bark and is an easy for disease to enter the tree’s life support systems. It doesn’t take much time to protect your trees from sunburn and it will be worth the effort when your repay you with lush, healthy growth — even in hot sun.