by Jamie Berlin, Alice & J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. Endowed Horticulture Intern

After trees have shed their leaves and the cold weather moves in, the Arboretum begins to move at a slower pace. During these months, the Arboretum staff has time to check on younger plantings and newer transplants. By visiting these plants individually, staff can evaluate health and initiate proper management practices. Younger trees are more vulnerable to the elements, so checking on them annually can help reduce problems in the future.

After checking that all accessioned plants are alive and accounted for, staff can focus on:

  • Minor pruning - cutting off branches that are rubbing one another or that might be a problem in the future.
  • Staking - protecting the young plants from buck rub (the practice of male deer rubbing their antlers on the stems of small trees to remove the velvet from their antlers).
  • Trunk protection - using netting around the base of the trunk to stop animals, such as groundhogs, from eating the bark.
  • Insect damage - taking note of the insect causing the damage, evaluating if it will cause a major problem to the plant, and taking the necessary management steps, such as pruning or spraying.
  • Labeling issues - accessioned plants within the Arboretum are assigned a specific number so they can be tracked over the years. If tags fall off, or are missing, this needs to be dealt with right away.


trees damaged by deer
Deer damage


staking a young tree
Staking around young trees


protection of a tree trunk
Trunk protection

Click here to learn more about Arboriculture at Morris Arboretum.