Why Do People Paint Trees White?

So, why do people paint tree trunks white?

The reason for painted trees is both cultural and practical. In the next sections, one will look into the origins and proven techniques for any household, especially for curious amateur gardeners.

Why paint trees white? Have you ever heard of it? Is it a new trend?

The idea of painting tree trunks seems rather a bizarre idea, at least for those who have no experience in gardening. However, just because the practice of painting trees is not widespread in the “mainstream” Western scenery does not mean it’s ineffective.

Quite the opposite – the world culture proves to be beautifully (and practically) developed in many spheres, including gardening. Tree trunk painting is a regular thing in hot regions, such as the Mediterranean and the Black Sea areas (in countries like Greece or Ukraine), or in the equatorial region (for example, Mexico) and other countries. 

white tree trunk

Why Do People Paint Tree Bottoms White?

Why paint trees white? In short, there are a few logical reasons for this phenomenon.

First, painting tree trunks protect trees from cracks, splits, and buckling, so all the juices absorbed go into actual growth.

Another popular opinion is that painting tree trunks white reflects the sun’s rays, keeping trees safe from their burning embrace.

Finally, white paint on trees keeps insects away. It serves as protection from various diseases, especially for young trees. Read our article and find out What is a Beech Tree?

White Tree Trunk Paint

As the reasons for using white paint on trees are more or less clear, the next question is: what is white paint? Obviously, it still sounds like some abstract substance rather than a step-by-step recipe. 

The confusion is rational, so it deserves some clarity. So, why paint trees white?

The classic recipe for the white paint on trees is latex paint. 

Latex Paint

Latex is a well-known water-based paint. Usually, this type of paint is traditional for exterior and interior paint jobs. Latex paint is easily washable with soap and water, so it’s flexible in use. Even more – the paint is versatile in areas of use. Not to mention the trees, white paint is popular for siding, trim, walls, and ceilings.

The recipe for white varnish, made of latex paint, is simple: mix one gallon of latex paint with four to five quarts of water. This formula works best for protecting tree trunks from borers. 

The second formula shields the fragile wood from the sun. Making a mixture of water, latex, and joint compound in ⅓ proportion is a proven method to do just that. 

Funny thing – if there is a need to protect tree trunks from the heat, any light color paint works!

However, one essential thing every gardener must remember when engaging in fruit tree painting is that it’s strictly not recommended to use oil-based paint on the trees. Like any other live creature, trees need to breathe, and oils in the paint will block their respiratory function.

white paint and brush


Aside from latex, another great recipe for painting tree trunks is using lime. Limewash is an effective agent against insects, specifically mosquito larvae. It also prevents sunburn, frost injury (especially in the early spring), and various diseases.

The great benefit of limewash is that it preserves the aesthetic, natural look of wood. Limewash does not cut trees’ breathing as well. 

Preparing a whitewash for painting tree trunks starts with mixing water and hydrated lime. The ratio of ingredients is around 80 percent of water to 20 percent of hydrated lime. 

Notably, if done correctly, the wash will have the consistency of milk; it also shouldn’t be gooey and thick. 

limewash on tree

How to Paint Tree Bark?

Applying latex paint or whitewash is best on a warm day. It is crucial that the temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celcius) and more. This way, white paint on trees dries faster. 

For the most effective application, it is better to use a sponge, a brush, or a wash mitt. Spraying the paint/wash is also a good idea. 

When putting white paint on trees, the start point should be around 18 inches (45.72 centimeters) from the ground and cover the rest of the trunk. Covering scaffold limbs in paint/wash for additional protection is also a good idea. 

Parting Thoughts

White paint on trees can become a new thing in gardening now that its benefits are listed. The procedure is easy to follow, but the results are so worth the effort. Hopefully, after this article, the number of questions: “Why paint trees white?” will reduce a lot. After all, if one has got to this very point, this question is no longer here.

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