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

Whitefly infestation in roses and salvia
June 15, 2007 - Several of my outdoor plants (including Knockout roses and salvia) have a white residue on the stems. If I touch it a white bug jumps off. The residue can be wiped off or sprayed off, but the little...
view the full question and answer

Possible transplant shock in recently planted Anacua in San Antonio, TX.
February 10, 2011 - I planted an Anacua tree from a nursery this past November. The tree I purchased was about 6ft tall and was a leftover from the spring. The roots were pretty wound up inside. After shaking the roots l...
view the full question and answer

Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
July 05, 2011 - I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any...
view the full question and answer

Plant mistakes from Cedar Park, TX
April 09, 2014 - At our "Wilts End" in Cedar Park, TX. and are looking for a tall shrub/tree that will hide a 6-ft tall concrete wall and muffle the noise from a busy street. The wall forms a very wide-angled V shap...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
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