Tree Cavities: A Customer Story

It’s more than a garden center…its connecting people with plants…

We understand the love of a family home where beloved trees and shrubs stand as guardians of our memories. At our garden centers, we want to help you love them for generations! Are all cavities bad? Read below how we saved this family’s beloved tree.


My name is Ben Morgan and we spoke last week about a tulip poplar on my property with a cavity in the trunk.

I had a tree company out to inspect and as you would imagine, they said the tree needs to come down and gave me an estimate.

This tree is the focal point of my front yard and I’d like to explore every avenue to try to save it.

The house has been in my family since the early 90s and I know from speaking with my parents and grandparents that the tree has had this cavity since they owned the property (around 1991). It has stood strong these 30+ years and doesn’t appear to have major issues to me – the foliage is full every year with only a couple of dead branches that are shed naturally by the tree. It drops some leaves in the late summer, but I’ve read that this seems normal.

The reason I’m investigating this now is because I want to know if there’s anything I can do to help my tree along in prolonging its life and good health.

I’ve read various opinions on whether to fill cavities and the best material to do so with, and have no idea what (if anything) I should be treating it with and how often.

It looks like some animals have been burrowing inside and I’d like to seal it off to protect from further internal damage if possible.

I figured you guys were the best to contact and could give me some advice rather than trying to fix the problem myself and potentially harming the tree.

I appreciate your time and effort in this matter.

Please let me know my next steps and what you recommend.”

With pictures and information Dylan responds! Check it out below!


Cavities are a natural part of most trees’ lives. This cavity is decades old, so the original wound has been callused over for a long time. The cavity itself is formed by the heartwood of the tree (which is no longer alive naturally) breaking down. This usually does not impact the health of the tree provided it is able to recover from the injury properly and no additional stress is put on the tree. As the tree ages with the cavity, it may lead to potential structural concerns, but this is usually when the tree is large enough to be nearing the end of its lifespan. Tulip trees are usually able to live at least 100 years in healthy environments.

With an injury this old, there is nothing you can do to help the tree. except for making sure it receives supplemental fertilizer and water when/if necessary. The hole should not be filled, drained, or disturbed in any way. Animals taking up residence in tree cavities is very normal. It does appear you may have an insect, such as carpenter ants, inside the cavity, which would definitely be something to monitor, but isn’t immediate cause for concern. Carpenter ants only nest in decaying wood, so they shouldn’t extend beyond the cavity.

At this point, I would recommend cleaning the cavity to make sure any debris is removed that may contribute to holding water or otherwise potentially causing additional decay. Keep a close eye on the cavity and the tree as a whole to make sure you don’t see any signs of the damage worsening or additional stress on the tree.

This page from Independent Tree in northern Ohio provides an excellent overall explanation of tree cavities. It may be that the tree will need to come down in the next few years if the damage begins to affect the structural stability of the tree, but it sounds like the tree has been handling the injury itself for many years. I expect it will continue to do so for a while longer.

If you have any additional questions or if we can help with anything else, please feel free to call us at (513) 423-5306, stop in the store at 825 Greentree Rd. in Middletown, or email us.

Thank you!”


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