Maples are hardy, but need some wintertime TLC
Maples are a wide a widespread and diverse family of trees native to Asia, Europe, and North America. Maples (and most other trees) need help to make it through our winters without damage. We are in a semi-arid, high prairie climate with cold temperatures and snow in the winter but neither the cold temperatures nor the snow is consistent. We have days of 40 and 50 degree temperatures off and on throughout the winter and the snow cover usually doesn’t last very long. In our area the snow often sublimates, changes from a solid state to a gaseous state, without melting to provide to provide useable moisture. Snow also provides insulation for the roots of trees so with now snow cover the roots can be damaged by the cold temperatures when they show up again. When temperatures rise above 40 degrees trees can come out of dormancy. Then they need water and if they do not have it available, you’ll most likely see the results next spring in the form branch dieback. Therefore, we must water trees in the wintertime.
Water in the winter and fall only on days when the temperature is above 40 degrees and there is no snow (or ice) on the ground around the tree. Water earlier in the day so that the water will have to soak into the ground. Winter watering starts in the fall with weekly waterings through September and into early October if it stays relatively warm as it has the last several years. Once the temperatures have started to drop below freezing at night, water young, recently planted, and evergreen trees twice a month when conditions are suitable (above 40 degrees and no snow on the ground). Water older established once or twice a month, the idea is not to just get the trees to survive but to thrive. Bear in mind that it takes about one year per inch of trunk diameter for a tree to regrow its root system after transplanting and during this time watering is critical. Follow this schedule for the remainder October through March for most deciduous and evergreen trees except for males. The maples start moving their sap up into the branches earlier in the season than most other trees. If maples do not have sufficient water, they cannot move sap into the upper most tips of the branches and these branches die back, never leaf out. Maples should be watered 3 to 4 times during March. If we have an especially warm February, then the maples then give the maples an extra watering or two.