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
11 ratings

Sunday - June 08, 2008

From: Helotes, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Best time to trim oak trees to avoid oak wilt
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

When is the best time to trim oak trees? Concerned regarding oak wilt if cut at wrong time. Ball moss is not harmful but will it help or harm if trees trimmed. These are large oak trees. Thank you.

ANSWER:

The Nitidulid beetles that carry the fungus (Ceratocystis fagacearum) that causes oak wilt are most active from February through May. Their activity declines as the summer temperatures rise but they are still around June through October. Their activity also subsides during the colder months November through January. Definitely, do not trim your trees from February through June. Probably the best time to trim is during a particularly cold period in the November through January range. Alternatively, the very hottest months—July, August, September—would be a reasonably safe time to trim. No matter when you trim be sure to paint the wounds IMMEDIATELY with pruning paint or even latex paint.

Read "Guidelines for Proper Pruning to Prevent Oak Wilt Infection" by Kim Camilli (Oak Wilt Coordinator, Texas Forest Service) and "Studies on Pruning Cuts and Wound Dressings for Oak Wilt Control" by Kim Camilli, David N. Appel, and W. Todd Watson. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 2007. 33(2):132-139. Also, visit the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership page for more information.

Regarding the Tillandsia recurvata (small ballmoss), they are epiphytes and not parasites; however, if they become too numerous on the limbs they can shade out leaves where photosynthesis occurs and interfere with the health of the tree. You don't really need to trim off the branches to remove the ball moss unless the limb itself is already dead. You can remove the ball moss from the limbs mechanically. There are also chemical controls, but unless the density is high, you probably can leave them where they are with no harm to the tree.

 

More Trees Questions

Knots growing on Arizona Ash in Richmond, TX
October 23, 2008 - I have three Arizona Ash trees around my house the trunks are at least 15" in diameter. One of the three has at least 25 large knots growing on its trunk, some maybe 6-8" in size. What are they? Are...
view the full question and answer

My newly planted Mountain Laurel isn\'t doing well.
March 13, 2009 - My mountain laurel was planted from a container in Dec. It is in part sun, clay soil, and its leaves are turning yellow. should I move it or will that kill it?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Privacy Screen for Maryland
November 19, 2012 - I am looking for an evergreen that will suffice to be planted as a privacy screen between my property and my neighbors. Looking to plant a row at the property line. The lot is shaded most of the d...
view the full question and answer

Safe branch length of oaks in Clayton NC
November 06, 2011 - I have 2 very large oak trees in my yard and I am concerned about the length of the branches over the house and driveway. Most seem larger than 4" in diameter. What is a safe length for these branc...
view the full question and answer

Digging sassafras roots in Oklahoma
March 11, 2009 - When should I dig sassafras roots in eastern Oklahoma?
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