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Painting fruit trees white: how is this measure for protection in the orchard and how to do it correctly?

Trees are amazingly adaptable and vigorous. However, young trees take time to become strong and resilient, and need a little help from us to survive the first few years. Painting tree trunks is a time-honored way to seal and protect them. A coat of white paint for fruit trees serves several purposes and can protect seedlings and very young trees from a variety of damage.

Why do people paint trees white

Painting fruit trees white - How this measure serves to protect them and how to do it properly

Painting tree trunks white is an old method of protecting young trees, often used in orchards and tree farms. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is to prevent cracks and splits in the tender new bark, which can introduce diseases, insects and fungi. It is also helpful in detecting insect infestations and can prevent some borers.

Professional fruit growers cannot afford to have rodents, birds or insects constantly infesting their trees. A coat of white paint for fruit trees helps repel pests by making it nearly impossible for them to bore into the bark. This can also prevent your tree’s bark from splitting, which often happens when a tree warms up quickly after a cold night. The change from cold winter nights to bright sunny days can do a lot of damage to tree trunks. The light color of the paint prevents the wood from overheating, thus preventing future cracks.

Painting white for fruit trees is an old method of protecting young trees

Moisture is transported upward from a tree’s roots through a vascular system that functions much like household plumbing. In plants, the fibrous pathways that carry water up from the soil are called xylem, and they are made up of millions of cells that transport water from the roots to the tips of the leaves. In winter, the tree trunks warm and cool depending on how much sunlight they receive. This allows sap to flow during the day, but once nighttime temperatures drop below 0 degrees Celsius, it freezes and the tree’s tissues crack. This is particularly damaging to fruit trees, whose harvest is often severely affected by winter damage. Painting tree trunks white helps reflect sunlight, which protects the trunk from overheating.

The right white tree trunk paint

The right product for painting tree trunks is water-based latex paint

The right product for painting tree trunks is water-based latex paint. You need to dilute the paint so that 4 liters of latex paint is mixed with 3.7 to 4.7 liters of water. Another formulation is one-third water, one-third latex paint and one-third joint compound and is suitable for sunburn protection. Never use an oil-based paint, as the tree will not be able to breathe. Some experts advise to use only interior paint, others recommend the opposite. As long as it is latex paint, both should work fine.

However, keep in mind that some paints contain additives that can be harmful to plants. If you choose an organic-based paint, you can eliminate these concerns. Besides white paint, you can use any other light color to achieve the same results. However, avoid darker shades as they absorb heat and increase sunburn.

Apply white paint for fruit trees

After mixing the paint, the best way to apply it is with a brush


After mixing the paint, you can best apply it with a brush. Tests have shown that spraying does not provide sufficient protection and does not adhere as well to the bark. A single coat is sufficient in all but the most severe cases. Paint with a thick, loosely napped, broad brush to the first row of branches. Rodents cannot climb beyond this point, so it is not necessary to paint higher. Painting fruit trees white is a simple and relatively non-toxic way to protect your plants from various problems. The procedure is simple, cheap and you only need to do it once a year.

When to paint trees white

Paint your tree trunk in early spring, before the insects become active

Paint your tree trunk in early spring, before insects become active. In addition to its protective function, painting tree trunks also has a visual effect and makes fruit trees look nice and neat.

Painting fruit trees with lime

In the past, when people did not have the modern agricultural means to protect trees from insects and vermin, they used to lime the trees, using a mixture of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), chalk and water lime mixed with water, as an insect repellent. In English this is called “whitewash”, and even today some gardeners prefer this ecological method to control insects that destroy the trunk and fruit.

The whitewash is applied in the spring. The lime-sulfur solution is a dormant solution, which is considered safe for the environment and does not contain harsh chemicals. Lime sulfur is available in powder form at garden supply stores. Mix the powder with water, following the instructions on the package for the size and type of tree to be painted. Shake the solution well before applying it to the tree to keep the concentration at the proper level. Avoid overdosing where the solution runs off the tree and onto the ground.

Tree wrapping vs. painting

Tree wraps can also be used to protect the trunk from sunburn


Tree wraps can also be used to protect the trunk and lower branches of a tree from sunburn, and are sometimes considered more attractive and therefore more suitable for the home landscape than trunk paints. In late fall, you need to place the wrapping material on the trunk of the tree, overlapping the material by about one-third. The wrapping should extend from the ground surface to just above the lowest branches and be taped in place to keep it in place.

You will need to remove the wrapping in the spring. Check the wrap periodically and replace it on at-risk trees because if the wrap is left on the trunk too long, it can girdle the tree or harbor pests. Trunk guards can be placed around trees to protect trunks from animal predation or mechanical injury and, depending on their nature, can also provide protection from sunburn.