En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 18, 2014

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Trees
Title: Trimming of Escarpment Oak from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a 2-year-old quercus fusiformis in our front yard and have been advised by some people that we need to remove the bottom branches and trim the ends of the branches that are hanging far down. While we kind of like the bushy look of the tree, we want to do the right thing for it. How would you recommend we trim it now and in the future? Thanks!

ANSWER:

If you follow this link to our webpage on this plant, Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak), you will find this paragraph:

"Plateau oak or Escarpment live oak is a thicket-forming shrub or large, spreading tree that is nearly identical in appearance to, and considered much hardier than, Q. virginiana."

This we take to mean you can allow it to remain a shrubby plant and train it by judicious pruning but NOT NOW!

"Its magnificent, stately form has endeared it to generations of residents and it remains popular to this day. Also like Q. virginiana, it is susceptible to live oak wilt and live oak decline when stressed by drought, so care must be taken to protect it from injury both aboveground and below ground to prevent infection."

This makes two points; the first being that it is not necessary to try to limit the size and shape of this "magnificent" tree, and the second being that any kind of trimming on this tree this time of year is a very bad idea. Frankly, this sounds like a pitch you would get from someone who just "happened" to notice your tree, rang your doorbell and would be only too happy to cut on it for cash, payable in advance. That person would be nowhere around when the tree began to die of Oak Wilt.

Mr. Smarty Plants always recommends that woody plants (trees and shrubs) be pruned, trimmed and/or transplanted in cooler weather; i.e., December and January in Texas. Between now and then, you can make a decision on what shape tree you want, including trimming up the trailing branches. Trees are the most valuable part of your landscape, and certainly the native oaks are stars that deserve protection. We suggest you read this entire article on Texas Oak Wilt.org .

 

From the Image Gallery


Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Death of Texas Betony and Blackfoot Daisy from Austin
April 18, 2013 - I have one small area that there are two plants - Texas Betony and Blackfoot Daisy withered and died eventually. Same kinds of plants are doing fine close by. It is my front yard close to walk way.I w...
view the full question and answer

Disease or insect damage on a Mexican plum
September 08, 2013 - Help, Our Mexican plum tree is about 13-14 years old. Earlier this year we noticed the trunk is oozing black stuff and whole branches are dying off. We have watched as our beloved tree has lost most ...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on young redbuds in Lincoln TX
August 01, 2010 - I have lined my driveway in Lee County Texas with Red bud trees purchased both in Dripping Springs and in College Station. The 14 trees are of varying ages and heights (planted during the fall and wi...
view the full question and answer

Leaves turning brown in Fredonia KS
June 16, 2009 - Leaves turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Small oak tree with powdery mildew in San Antonio, TX.
May 09, 2012 - I have a small oak tree with powdery mildew. Is there anything I can do about? Will it kill the tree?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center