tree trunks painted in white

Why Are the Bottom of Trees Painted White?

In Exterior Paint, Exterior Wood by Jamie

Have you ever seen regions or countries where the bottom side of trees was painted in white and you weren’t sure why?

The process of painting trees can actually help protect them because it reflects sunlight while also deterring pests and rodents that want to munch on the bark. There’s an entire science behind tree painting and I’m going to explain why is the bottom of trees painted white.

Does Painting the Bottom of a Tree Protect the Tree?

Whitewashing tree trunks is a time-honored way of protecting young trees that are frequently used in tree farms and orchards.

There are various uses, but the primary one is to prevent cracking and splitting in the sensitive young bark, which can lead to the invasion of fungi, insects, and disease.

Additionally, it is beneficial to highlight insect infestations, which may help prevent some borers. The efficiency of tree trunk painting is debatable. While it is true that it deflects scorching sun rays away from the fragile bark, the improper product can do more harm than good.

Why Only Paint the Bottom of the Tree?

Because this is the part that’s closest to the ground and likelier to suffer damage.

Moisture is transported up a tree’s vascular system from its roots via a mechanism similar to domestic plumbing. The fibrous passageways that convey water up from the soil are termed xylem in plants.

Millions of cells are involved and transport water from the roots to the leaf tips. In the winter, tree trunks heat and cool in response to the amount of sunlight they absorb. This allows for the flow of sap during the day, but when nighttime temperatures fall below 32 degrees, the sap freezes, tearing the tree’s tissues.

This is especially detrimental to fruit trees, whose crops are frequently severely harmed by winter damage. Whitewashing tree trunks help reflect sunlight, keeping the trunk cool.

What Types of Trees are Painted White?

All trees which are prone to sun damage in very hot climates can be painted white. This includes:

  • Palm trees
  • Apple trees
  • Honey locust
  • Fruit trees
  • Shrubs

What Kind of Paint is Used to Paint the Bottom of Trees?

Rust-Oleum 1993730 Painter's Touch Latex Paint, Half Pint, Semi-Gloss White 8 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

Water-based latex paint is the right substance to use when painting tree trunks. Dilute the paint at a rate of one-gallon latex to four to five quarts of water. The best protection against borers came from a full-strength coating painted on.

Another recipe, which is beneficial for sunscald protection, is one-third water, joint compound, and latex paint.

While some experts recommend using exterior paint, others advise against it. In fact, as long as the paint is latex, either should work great.

Bear in mind, however, that some paints may contain compounds that are toxic to plants. Therefore, verify this before painting. Indeed, selecting one with an organic base may assuage this fear.

Additionally, you may use any light color paint in place of white and achieve the same results– just avoid darker tones that absorb heat and contribute to increased sunscald.

Why White Paint on Trees?

Because white paint can help reflect sunlight and protects the trunk by keeping it cool. Basically, using white paint helps control the amount of heat and cold the trunk receives during the summer and winter seasons.

Can I Use Other Paint Colors?

Yes, there are plenty of brands that sell paint for your trees and made them available in a wide range of colors. You can go with colors like green, blue, or brown.

What Kind of Paint Should Be Avoided on Trees?

Never use oil-based paint, which prevents the tree from breathing. If there are critters munching on young trees, coat the white tree trunk paint with a rat repellent to prevent their chewing damage.

Oil-based paints and products aren’t recommended for use on tree trunks due to the potential for damage to the bark and wood.

 

Where Is it Common to See Trees Painted White?

Most gardening sources state that ‘whitewashing’ or ‘lime washing’ is exclusively beneficial for fruit trees. Lime protects fragile trees from rapid temperature changes and is most effective when applied in autumn, just before the frost begins.

It may help shelter leafless plants in hotter climes from the searing April heat. As a result, trees in sections of Mexico, Greece, and the United States of America are painted white.

However, in the majority of countries of the Former Soviet Union, the paint job is ineffective, especially when applied to non-fruit-bearing trees. The enterprise’s complete senselessness is underscored by the fact that inanimate roadway features (such as lighting) are frequently also painted.

Do People Paint Trees in Cold Locations?

If you’re somewhere with a colder climate, you don’t have to worry that much about extreme heat causing tree damage. However, painting the bottom of a tree does more than just offer heat protection.

It can also help deter insects and rodents that could potentially harm your tree. That means that you’re bound to see some people living in cold locations who still choose to paint their trees.

How to Apply White Paint to a Tree?

Once your paint has been mixed, the ideal way of application is with a paintbrush. Spraying does not give appropriate protection and does not adhere as well to the bark, according to tests.

A single coat is sufficient unless you’re dealing with severe weather conditions. Whitewashing tree trunks is a simple and relatively non-toxic approach to protect your plant against a variety of diseases.

The procedure is simple, inexpensive, and only needs to be performed once a year in areas with extreme weather.

What is the Best White Tree Trunk Paint?

IV Organic 3-in-1 Plant Guard IV Organic 3-in-1 Plant Guard, 1 Pint (WHITE)

This is an efficient product to consider if you want what’s best for your fruit and nut trees, shrubs, ornamental trees, and others. It’s efficient against rodents, sunburn, and insects, making sure your trees and shrubs stay protected. It’s available in white, grey, brown, greige, and green.

Final Thoughts

Whitewashing tree trunks serve a number of reasons and can help protect seedlings and very young trees from a variety of potential threats. Learn how to paint tree bark in order to help prevent insect damage, cracks, and sunscald.

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.