Hurriane Resistant Trees – is there such a thing?

Hurricane Frances rips up some trees. (Image courtesy of Flickr user daveinswf. Click for full photo.)

Its rainy season in Florida, which is a good time to plant new trees. But with rainy season also comes hurricane season and as the fourth tropical storm of the season quietly simmers near Florida and the Caribbean, it’s important to make sure you choose trees that are more likely to survive hurricanes and truly be a good investment for your property.

While there are trees that are stronger than others, the way they are planted, the area in which they are planted, and the surrounding trees or plants can make all of the difference The list of strong trees is long, so let’s consider the other elements first in order to narrow down the list.

 

Tree Canopy at Bonnet House (Image Courtesy of Flickr user Cliff1066. Click for full photo.)

Don’t let trees get lonely

Trees are approximately 10% more likely to survive when planted in groups.(1) Trees should be planted in groups of five and as a mixture of older and newer trees, along with differing heights of trees and shrubbery. That being said, trees that are over-mature, or not in the list of “safe” trees are not likely to survive a hurricane, regardless of how they are planted.

 

Just like us, trees get weaker as they age

Trees that are over-mature should be removed as part of your landscaping plan (yes, you should have one that is updated at least quarterly).

The roots on this 80-foot tree were not enough to withstand a small hurricane. (Image Courtesy of Flickr user mattjb. Click for full photo.)

Go deep

Trees depend on their roots to become strong, so trees should be planted deeply. Logical, right? , but unfortunately soil in south Florida is sandy and not always deep. So, the particular type of tree is especially important in our neighborhood. In addition water run-off is integral. If water consistently loosens the roots, or worse, starts to rot those roots the tree may not make it through a large sneeze, let alone a force 5 storm.

Trees need love all year long

Trees need to be pruned throughout the year, not just before hurricane season. Not pruning them causes them stress and strain and weakens their structure. Pruning them only before hurricane season will help their chances of survival, but having a year-long plan will give them more time to bounce back and give them the best chance they have.

Go Native

In general, trees that are native to Florida stand up to hurricanes better. The palm species appears to stand up better than any others, but even among the palms some are better than others. Again it’s logical: those palms that are native to coastal regions are better at withstanding high winds, gusts, and water damage. Queen palms do poorly compared to Canary Island date palms, manila palms, and sabal palms.

We’ve covered the ways to improve your tree’s chances, and here’s the list of hurricane resistant trees, brought to you by our great friends at The University of Florida’s Food and Agricultural Science division:

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