Are Your Trees Growing As They Should?

It all Starts With Germination

bird with seed
Credit: hedera.baltica
  • Trees occur naturally through seeds spread in various ways
  • All trees require the perfect conditions to thrive
  • Many trees don’t make it beyond this stage

When a tree grows naturally in the wild, the seeds are carried by animals, water, wind, or even on people as they move throughout the world. Eventually, when these seeds find the perfect area (where the sunlight, warmth, water, and soil is all perfect) they will eventually sprout and grow up the first stem. From there, they have to avoid getting destroyed by the same things that helped them: animals, people, water, and sunlight.

Many trees will never get beyond this stage for any number of reasons. Those that do, will start to grow.

For trees that are “assisted” to grow, they are formed in a greenhouse setting where they can grow and thrive. There are many trees that are found in nature but are more commonly grown in greenhouses because they require such tedious care in this stage, according to Tree Help.

Cell Growth Leads To The Trees We Know

evergreen sapling
Credit: Alan Levine
  • Cell growth starts in the bark
  • Almost all cell growth is in the tips of the trees
  • Tree increases in height and diameter

Chemically, a lot of work goes into growing a tree. Texas A&M explains: “Trees have six organs: leaves, stems and roots (vegetative structures) and flowers, fruits, and seeds (reproductive structures). Tree growth is the increase in size and numbers of the vegetative structures. Trees use the sun, carbon dioxide, water, and minerals to produce sugars.  Sugars are the building blocks of tree growth. As a result, tree growth is as much a response to the environment as it is to the trees genetic make-up.”

Trees grow upwards and outwards as new cells are produced under the bark itself. This creates the “rings” that we see on a cross section of a tree trunk. At the same time, the branches are lengthening and new tips are created upon which leaves start to form. In the early stages, the tree doesn’t have all of the organs that it needs to survive and it will get them as it gets stronger and there is actually room for those structures to emerge.

The Real Story Is Happening Underground

roots
Credit: Richard BH
  • Helps to anchor tree
  • Absorbing many nutrients to continue growth
  • Eventually leads to photosynthesis

A tree is nothing if it does not have a good root system. Underneath the soil, the tree is working extremely hard to establish itself. This is one of the most critical parts of the growth process, making it possible for everything else to occur. Roots are gathering water and nutrients that will flow through the rest of the tree. While they may seem small and weak in comparison, these roots are moving through the soil quite quickly.

According to Deep Root, “Open-grown trees often have a wider root system than trees closely planted together. Some species, such as Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) can root-graft with others of their kind, sharing nutrients, stabilizing each other and reducing the stress on each individual tree.”

Once the root system is strong enough, the sapling may break through the soil and start to reach up toward the sun. This is when the fun really begins.

Now The Fun Starts

grown tree
Credit: Chad Skeers
  • This process takes a long time
  • Trees sold in nurseries are often a few years old
  • Still face many burdens

Once a tree has broken through the ground, it actually isn’t a tree. They are still considered seedlings until they are about 3 feet tall. Once that stage has passed, it will be known as a sapling until it reaches about 3 inches in diameter, and only then is it actually classified as a young tree. Once the tree has reached 12 inches in diameter, then it is a mature tree.

Trees die off at every stage of the growth process, especially in the wild where only the strongest can survive. Growth will vary depending on the type of tree, the environment the tree is growing in, the weather, the climate, nutrients, water levels, and just between trees. It can be infuriating for those trying to grow trees from seedlings, but it is part of what makes trees special.

As the years pass, the growth rate will slowly decrease but trees will never really stop growing, according to the University of Tennesee. Even as trees are dying, they are still growing on the inside and becoming wider. This is due to cell growth and regeneration. You can help your trees but ensuring they have enough nutrients, water, sunlight, and care if something goes wrong.

Part of tree growth is sheer luck, but a bigger part of it is ensuring that the tree has what it needs and is given room to grow.

If you believe that you have a problem with your trees or in your yard, give us a call today at (269) 216-6811 and we can set up a time to visit you and your beautiful trees to see just what the problem is – and how we can help you. There is no job too big or too small – contact our professionals today!

Header photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management on Flickr!

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