Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

What Happens to Trees in Winter?

Jupiterimages/ Images

Stems and woody tissues of trees are equipped to endure harsh winter temperatures, however fragile leaf tissues freeze and wither in the winter if the plant is not hardy enough.


Trees do not die during the winter; they just go into a form of hibernation called dormancy. Since there is less sunlight in the winter and the tree can’t produce as much food, trees must conserve their energy.


Growth slows in trees as the days begin to shorten and get colder. Since growth halts altogether during the winter months, avoid adding fertilizers late in the summer months so the tree does not produce new growth that can be damaged in winter.


A wax-like substance frequently covers the leaves and needles of evergreen trees. This wax resists freezing and protects from harsh winter elements. Leaves and needles that do fall from evergreens have died from old age, and may fall at any time of the year, not just in the autumn or winter.

Garden Guides