Plants blooming in all different shades are the highlight of springtime.
But not to be outdone by the colorful display, fuzzy cottonwood tree seeds spread far and wide, covering nearby yards in a sea of white.
Cottonwood tree seeds sure can be annoying, but it does help to know when they’re coming and when they’ll let up.
Learn all about that below–and get tips on how to avoid cottonwood shedding.
What are those white, fluffy seeds in the air?
It’s easy to tell if your neighborhood is home to a cottonwood tree. The trees produce white seeds that look just like cotton.
With the wind's help, they can spread for miles, covering lawns, driveways and everything in sight with white fluff. At first glance, it may look like a snowstorm hit your yard!
When do cottonwood trees bloom?
Cottonwoods bloom in the growing season. Early in spring, female trees produce fruiting capsules that look like a string of green pearls. Then, when ripe, the capsules split, and the tree sheds those cottony seeds.
Cottonwood shedding season varies a little based on location. But in general, it happens in late spring to early summer.
How long do cottonwood trees shed cotton?
Cottonwood seeds are fully grown and ready to fall in late April or early May and then wrap up the shedding process by June or July at the latest.
How can I stop cottonwood trees from producing cotton?
Cottonwood tree seeds can make quite the mess, so it’s understandable to want them gone.
One way to do that is by spraying the tree with a growth regulator that contains ethephon. But this is a job you don’t want to DIY.
Because cottonwood trees are so tall, only a professional can safely reach and cover the tippy top of the tree. Plus, if you use too much of the product, you can damage your tree and cause it to drop leaves. A certified arborist knows how much (and when) to apply the product, which is crucial to making sure it works as well as can be expected.
But a growth regulator will only cut down on the number of cottonwood seeds. The only way to completely stop the cotton is to replace the plant with a cotton-free variety. Male cottonwood trees don’t produce seeds, or there are lots of types to choose from if you want to swap trees entirely.