Why Is My Tree Bark Splitting?

Bark splitting affects many trees for various reasons, but the most affected include young and thin-barked tree species like maple, ash, and fruit trees. Keep reading for answers to the question, “Why is my tree bark splitting?” and let’s explore the effects, remedies, and preventive measures for bark splitting as advised by Navarre’s top-rated tree service.

why is my tree bark splitting

Causes of Tree Bark Splitting

Possible causes of bark splitting include:


Direct exposure to the sun and excessive heat can damage tree bark. This may happen during hot, dry summers and after over pruning. Sunburn will most likely occur on the southern and southwestern sides of the tree.


Direct daytime sun followed by cold nighttime temperatures, especially in winter months, can cause bark injury to thin-barked or young trees.

While you may overlook such injuries immediately, patches of dead bark may crack and fall off come spring. Like sunburn, sunscald typically affects the southern and southwestern sides of the tree.

Frost Cracks

During winter and early spring, sudden temperature fluctuations between day and night can freeze the water within the trunk, causing it to expand or split open the bark. Frost cracks can also start from a wound inflicted on the tree earlier in its development.

Fluctuating Growth Conditions  

Dry weather—which slows down growth and makes the bark brittle and dry—followed by wet conditions or excess irrigation may lead to a vigorous growth spurt that may split the bark.

Late Season Fertilization

Fertilizing late in the growing season, like summer or early fall, may lead to a late-season growth spurt when the tree should be preparing for the dormant winter season. With no ample time to harden before winter, the bark becomes more susceptible to frost cracks and sunscald.

Remedies for Bark Splitting

Now that you can answer the question, “Why is my tree bark splitting?” it helps to know how to address the issue.

Understanding why tree bark splits is crucial, and so is knowing how to facilitate tree bark regrow on trees. Recent research findings indicate the minimal value of tree wound paints in helping a tree to callus over and regrow its bark. Therefore, it’s advised not to paint or try to seal a bark split or crack with paint or tar.

Bark tracing, on the other hand, proves effective in aiding healing. With a sharp knife, cut along the edges of the crack to remove loose, jagged bark. This technique helps the tree close cracks smoothly.

How To Prevent Bark Splitting

The following tips may help prevent bark splitting:

  • Plant the right tree in the right place
  • Don’t over prune trees
  • Irrigate trees properly and regularly
  • Consider insulating bark with light-colored tree wraps
  • Don’t fertilize in the summer or early fall

Trust Your Local Tree Experts  

Enjoy the highest level of tree care services from the seasoned professionals at Backridge Tree Service. With over two decades of experience, we handle all facets of tree care, including:

  • Tree pruning
  • Tree risk assessment
  • Master arborist consulting
  • Tree removal
  • Tree installation and restoration

Call Backridge Tree Service at (850) 240-2829 to request an estimate for tree service anywhere across the Florida panhandle. Reach out to learn what an arborist does or for answers to the question: Why is my tree bark splitting?

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