Why do people paint tree bottoms white?

While in Mexico, Weikai and I noticed that most of the trees were painted white near the bottom of their trunks. This reminded me of the trees of my childhood in Arkansas. My Mom used to say that people painted the bottoms of their trees to make them grow better. Our Mexico trip suddenly had me asked, “But why? What exactly makes them grow better?”

So, I figured it out with a little research, since I have a friend who does works for a company that does termite control Los Angeles, CA. There are a few reasons why people paint their tree trunks white:

  • It helps prevent sun damage to the trunk tissue, especially if the tree has thin bark. The white paint reflects the sun.
  • It acts as a pesticide, keeping bugs from burrowing into the trunk.
  • And lastly, many people think that it is aesthetically pleasing and overall more attractive… not sure if I agree yet.

And here’s a video I found that talks a little bit more about the best types of paints to use for your trees:

So there you have it! If you have a problematic tree, try painting its trunk white!

7 thoughts on “Why do people paint tree bottoms white?

  1. Hey Lex! I’m majoring in International Business and Marketing at NYU Stern. I work in the Digital and Buzz Marketing department at NYTimes.com. So, I basically upload content to Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace on the NYTimes pages. I have other duties, but those are some of the most visible things I do! I’ll definitely check out your blog! I see in your profile that you like Monty Python; me too!!

  2. I like this blog…. Very intereting.

    what are you majoring in? It says you are a NYTimes intern, so I’m assuming journalism.

    feel free to check out my blog if you have time. Childish writing style, I will admit, but it’s there.


    • It started as pest control, the white not a paint but the body to hold the pesticide. This stuff would wash off the trunk after a few rains. Paint actually clogs the bark and is not beneficial. Trees do not need protection from the sun. I remember orange groves with all the trunks looked painted white when growing up in California. This was not done all the time, only when needed. It became a form of landscape decoration after awhile. There is not need to ‘paint’ a tree trunk except for pest control.

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