How Do Trees Survive Winter?

Trees do not always freeze to death because, on a cellular level, they have some “built-in” mechanisms that prevent this. We also have to carry many of our garden plants indoors in the winter, or just let them freeze. But what are we going to do with trees? They won’t fit into most homes exactly, and they are made immovable by their huge root systems. Your trees know, fortunately, how to defend themselves!

Cold ice

When temperatures are about 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, most trees freeze. Based on the tree’s height, age, species, and several other factors, the exact temperature varies. Temperatures can get well below 20 to 30 if you live in a very cold environment and remain there for a while. Nevertheless, don’t worry! They’re okay as long as the trees manage to prevent their living cells from freezing. Trees do not always freeze to death because, on a cellular level, they have some “built-in” mechanisms that prevent this.

To Remain Alive

Trees also go into hibernation in the winter, like many species. It is simply called dormancy. They begin by dropping their leaves when trees are preparing for dormancy. In order to support them, leaves need water, so the trees are effectively relieving themselves of “non-essential staff.” The trees will use the little water they receive without leaves to keep the roots, trunk, and branches alive.

The water freezes in the winter because trees are around 50 percent water. In fact, the water in the outer layers of the tree bark acts as an insulator that through frigid temperatures keeps the cells on the inside alive. Trees also have the unusual ability to turn starch into sugar in their cells, which allows them to better stand up to the cold.

What's With Evergreens?

As other trees shed their leaves, the reason why evergreen trees do not shed needles for winter is simply that they don’t need to. To remain safe, pine needles need much less water. Pine trees have the unusual ability to transfer moisture around their own branches in order to remain nourished even when the weather is snowy and cold. To remain safe, evergreen trees actually need very little water.

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