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

Tuesday - August 28, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Oak leaf fall causing ivy damage
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I read the A/Q in the Austin American-Statesman Saturday, August 25, regarding the leaves falling now from the live oaks. I am experiencing the same thing, but it is the leaves of my post oaks that are falling much too soon. The damage is that my English ivy is dying. Please advise.

ANSWER:

Okay, we now come to the point about use of native plants in your landscape. Quercus stellata (post oak) is a native Texas oak, very drought resistant, with large leaves providing shade in the summer garden. They are seldom seen in nurseries, because they are very difficult to transplant; therefore, unless you had the post oak on land where your house is built, you probably wouldn't have it at all. Quercus stellata takes care of its own propagation. Many gardeners, as you have done, use mature native oaks to give shade and shelter to shade-loving ground covers.

Hedera helix, English ivy, is a native of most of Europe and southwest Asia. This summer, in Central Texas, for two months we had a climate like the regions where English ivy originated, cool, cloudy, and rainy. The post oak, unused to such conditions, dropped some leaves in protest. Then, summer came back to Central Texas, along with normal heat and bright sunshine, and the English ivy had lost some of its protection. It is suffering from something like sunburn, as the large, dark leaves are suddenly getting much more sun than they customarily do. Under normal circumstances, by the time the post oak dropped its leaves in the fall, the weather would be cooler, the sun lower, rain more frequent and the English ivy would be fine. The native post oak will easily survive this sudden change, because it IS a native, and its species has seen this kind of trick played by Texas weather before. We suspect the English ivy will also survive; even though it is not a native. English ivy, in fact, can be pretty aggressive in shady landscapes, and in the Pacific Northwest where the climate is similar to that in the native home of Hedera helix, it is often considered invasive. A little more water and perhaps trimming back long runners of the ivy that have browned or lost leaves should tide it over.


Quercus stellata

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Are bald cypress cones toxic to dogs?
October 27, 2013 - Are bald cypress tree seed pods poisonous? to dogs? We just got a rescue dog and we go out in the yard with her. But now that we are into fall and the pods are falling. She goes right to them. Are...
view the full question and answer

Wound in Monterey Oak from Austin
June 20, 2012 - I have a 10 year old Monterey Oak that has developed a wound that is secreting a white bubbly substance that has attracted all the bugs, like butterfly's , pill bugs, ants, and several others I don'...
view the full question and answer

Larvae infesting Mexican white oak
December 16, 2010 - What larvae/worm would dwell and eat the inside of a Mexican White Oak? I planted one last November and it was doing great. The bark started cracking towards the bottom but the top was very full & gre...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for black walnut near septic tank
March 10, 2009 - We have a black walnut tree growing on the sunny side of our house which provides wonderful shade in the summer but it is such a dirty tree. The leaves drop very early as well as small branches and t...
view the full question and answer

Are Mesquite (Prosopis) pods safe for dogs to eat?
June 15, 2009 - are pods from mesquite trees posionus to dogs if they chew or eat them?
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