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Wednesday - April 16, 2008

From: Weatherford, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Care in planting native Shumard oaks
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?


This USDA Plant Profile shows the counties in Texas where the Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak) is normally distributed. While Parker County may not be one of the ones indicated on this map, it is close enough that you should be able to expect your Shumard oaks to do okay. The most important thing is that they are native trees, which means they are already prepared to face the growing conditions in Texas because of millennia of experience.

If you already have the trees in pots or balled and burlapped, get them into the ground as soon as possible. They would really be better planted in the Winter when sap is down and the tree is semi-dormant, but if they are out of the ground now, those roots need to go back in the ground, fast. Dig a good big hole and remove any large rocks. If you wish, you could mix some compost in with the dirt that has come from the hole. Once the tree is in the hole, scrape the soil back in around it. Don't replace the soil from the hole with something else; that is what those roots are going to have to live in-they can start now or start later, but they might balk when they get out to the native soil and discover it's not such easy living as they thought. Bring the soil only up to the place where it was on the tree before. Stick a hose down in the dirt and turn on a dribble of water. Leave it until the water appears on the surface. If the soil has settled, return to the same level with more soil from the hole or compost. Repeat this watering every other day for a few weeks. These are all steps to prevent transplant shock, the biggest cause of loss in transplanted trees.

Here is a more detailed article on care of Shumard oaks from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. You will note that it mentions that Shumard oaks can be subject to oak wilt, which is almost universally fatal. The disease cannot be cured, but you can try to prevent it by certain cultural practices. Go to www.texasoakwilt.org for recommendations and sources of help.

Quercus shumardii

Quercus shumardii



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