En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
10 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

Should I plant a Beech Tree in Austin, TX
October 06, 2009 - I'm considering planting a beech tree but most of the gardeners I've talked to think it won't do well in central Texas. The main issue seems to be an inadequate dormancy period due to our mild wint...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a Young Cercis canadensis (Redbud) Tree
April 05, 2014 - I have a redbud tree that was transplanted when very young (five years ago). It just started budding last year. It is growing very well but the branches are low. It's like it's growing out instead o...
view the full question and answer

Sap dripping from redbud in Bertram, TX
March 03, 2014 - Our multi-trunked Texas redbud has sap dripping down 3 of the trunks. It seems to originate from a very small crack in each trunk. The tree is just starting to show pink this week, and is about to blo...
view the full question and answer

Northern Catalpa Tree Doing Poorly
July 02, 2014 - One of our Northern Catalpa trees appears to be dying. It is about 28 feet tall and this year only about 1/3 of it is producing leaves. It is next to our largest Catalpa tree (about 65 feet tall and a...
view the full question and answer

Is a Mexican plum planted last Spring in Houston ready to bloom
April 08, 2011 - I live in Houston, TX. I bought my Mexican Plum last late Spring. It was about 4' tall. It is now about 6' tall, very healthy with lots of beautiful leaves. It gets a lot of sun. It did not blo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center