How to Save a Tree Hit by Lightning: A Guide
Did you know that the average lightning bolt is roughly 300 million volts strong? That is 2.5 million times stronger than typical household current.
It seems impossible that a tree could withstand something like that. However, in some cases, they can.
While lightning accounts for the death of more than 40% of large trees, there are occasions where you can still save a tree hit by lightning.
If a tree of yours has been hit, before you start planning to cut it down, you should read this post. Because we are about to give you all the pro tips for treating a tree hit by lightning.
Ready to start saving your tree? Keep reading.
If you want to save a tree hit by lightning, you need to act fast. If the damage is minimal and you take immediate action, your tree will have the highest chance of survival.
When a tree is hit by lightning, it can suffer severe injury. Even if it looks relatively untouched, it may have undergone internal damage that is invisible to the eye. Besides this, its root system may have also been injured from the electrical current.
It is important that you begin supporting the tree as soon as possible to give it the best chance of recovery.
Assess the Damage
The first step for treating a tree hit by lightning is assessing the damage. As mentioned above, it's not always easy to see how badly a tree has been affected by lighting.
However, if the tree is in very bad shape, with a split stem, a crown that has almost no undamaged areas, then it's not likely the tree will survive. If it is obvious the tree won't survive—or is already dead, you might want to get a tree removal service in.
On the other hand, if the trunk is relatively undamaged, and there are still some living areas on the tree, you should start treatment.
Lightening damage can also warrant calling a certified arborist. They will be able to assess the tree expertly and guide you on any professional treatment methods it might need.
Trim Any Damaged Areas
To support healthy regrowth and guard against rot and disease, the next thing you should do is trim any damaged or cracked branches.
Try not to prune too hard, as this can set the tree back and cause further stress. Hard pruning should be delayed until after the tree has made a full recovery. However, you should aim to remove all areas of splintered wood.
Water Deeply (if Needed)
If the soil around the base of your damaged tree is dry, you should water it deeply.
Giving your injured tree a good soaking will help it to revive wilted areas. Having access to adequate water will also assist the tree in nutrient uptake. Supporting nutrient uptake is important, as the tree will need all the food it can get to start healing and regrowing the damaged areas.
After the initial watering, you should try to keep the area moist until the tree has made a complete recovery. This could take a number of months, and a fair amount of water. However, if conditions are dry, this could be a make or break factor in your tree's recovery.
As mentioned above, damaged trees need access to adequate nutrients to recover and regrow.
Therefore, an important part of saving a tree struck by lightning is fertilizing it. If you want to apply organic fertilizer, you can opt to give the tree a relatively deep layer of compost, following by bark chip mulch.
Compost provides a balanced source of elements, as well as beneficial soil microbes which can boost your tree's nutrient uptake.
If your tree is in serious trouble, you might also want to consider applying a quick-release synthetic fertilizer to aid its regrowth as fast as possible.
No matter what fertilizer you apply, you should also make sure you mulch the tree. This will help to protect the sensitive topsoil around the base of the tree. It will also slow down evaporation from the ground, meaning you won't have to water it as often.
Monitor Closely for Disease and Pests
Another important step when treating a tree hit by lightning is monitoring it for pests.
When trees are damaged, this opens them up to infestation by pests. Broken branches and peeling bark all create gaps in a tree's defenses against pests and disease.
What's more, as you know, lightning can cause internal damage and weakness. Pests naturally target weakened trees.
If your tree develops an infestation after being hit by lightning, this can be fatal.
So, make it a point to keep a sharp eye on your tree. If you see any signs of wood-boring insects and beetles, you should apply a pesticide treatment immediately.
Need to Save a Tree Hit by Lightning?
Although lighting strikes are often lethal for trees, if the damage isn't too bad, you might be able to resuscitate yours.
If you want to save a tree hit by lightning, the basic tenants are to prune it, water it, feed it, and fight any diseases or pests that may appear. Take note, there is no guarantee that a tree hit by lightning will recover. In some cases, it might steadily decline, depending on the amount of damage its internal structure, branches, and roots have suffered.
If you want to save a tree hit by lightning, but need assistance, we are here to help. We can diagnose your tree and assess whether it is worth taking measures to save it. As arborists, we can also implement a recovery program tailored to your tree, and take care of any necessary pruning services.
In the event that your tree won't recover, we can also remove it for you.
With over 15 years in the tree service industry, we know when a tree is worth saving. Contact us today and get the care your lightning struck tree needs.