There are two primary causes for leaf drop in the spring. Some trees retain some leaves through the winter – and that part is totally normal. Sometimes there are reasons for those leaves sticking around, but usually they’re just hitching a ride. They’ll fall off in the spring in an act that mostly resembles an animal shedding its fur. They’re mostly dead and if they’re not, they will be soon, they’ll fall off and that’ll be that. You have nothing to fear.
That being said – there are a few species that will go against the grain and shed for different reasons, some of which you should be a little more conscious of.
If you have a tree that ends up with an excess (a lot) of failing leaves in the spring then there’s a chance your tree has an infection. The first step towards figuring out if this is the case is to take into consideration the type of tree you have and the various characteristics the leaves have; specifically if they’ve curled and are brown. With certain types of trees – mass leaf failure that presents itself in this way and manner is usually a bad sign.
The types of trees that usually shed in the Spring includes Hackberry, hickory, holly, live oak and southern magnolia trees – so even if it seems like your tree is dumping a lot of leaves, you should know that you’re likely in the clear as it’s typical behavior for these species of trees. If you don’t have a tree in this list and your leaves are still falling, then you may have anthracnose. Anthracnose is basically a catch-all term of different fungal diseases that go after your trees. Ash trees are particularly succeptable to anthracnose and regularly display all the signs we’ve described above. It’s also an infection that presents itself distinctly in weather like the weather we’ve been having here in the seacoast region.
So what should I do?
The good news is that your trees can usually kick anthracnose themselves. While it can harm some leaves, you should see fresh leaves replace them by the time summer rolls around.
There are some steps you can take to attack anthracnose, but the best thing is to patiently trim the branches that are most effected by the disease. These branches will show several leaves still on the trees that are looking curried, brown and crumpled. You’ll want to wait until the weather warms up a bit before trimming – but once it does, those will be the areas to attack. It’s also a good idea to rake and dispose of infected leaves and fertilize your tree to help it manage the stress that comes from the disease itself. Getting rid of the leaves will help remove infection detritus and the fertilizer will give the tree the nutrient burst it’ll need to quickly heal itself. Between these two forms of treatment, you should be able to manage the issue before it becomes problematic and prevent the spread of the disease to the rest of your tree. Anthracnose is a pain to deal with – but rest assured that waiting it out, or a little extra TLC should get rid of it quickly.