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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - June 20, 2008

From: Bynum, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Safe time to trim live oak trees
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Our live oak trees need a little trimming, as some of the branches are hanging too low, almost to the ground. We planted them about 5 years ago, so they are well established, healthy trees. My husband heard that it's not good to trim them. Is this true? If not, is it safe to trim them back now? Our temps are in the high 90s. Thanks! Debbi

ANSWER:

Trimming them is just fine, but the timing of the trimming is crucial. The reason for the concern is oak wilt. The beetles responsible for spreading the fungus that causes oak wilt are most active during the warm spring weather. They are still around the rest of the year but are least active during the hottest months of summer and during cold spells of our winters here in Texas. Please see the answer to a recent question to learn more details about oak wilt and measures to prevent it.

Before you trim your oak trees be sure to 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.

Additionally, you probably should check with your Hill County Extension Agent to learn about the current status of oak wilt in your county.

 

 

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