En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Pruning for native oak in Houston

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 06, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning for native oak in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing taller and out to the sides. With Hurricane Ike, I was hoping to keep it short and full.

ANSWER:

First, please don't prune until later in the Fall, or early Winter. Most of the nitidulid beetles that spread spores of the fungus causing oak wilt are probably inactive by now, but it's not a chance you want to take. It's always better to prune during cooler weather, when the trees are more dormant. Next, pruning from the top of an oak tree is going to mean some perilous climbs as the tree matures. Oaks generally get really tall, and there's not much of any way to stunt their growth. And, in fact, this wouldn't help them resist hurricane force winds. One of the reasons oaks are being chosen as replacement trees after Hurricane Ike is because they are sturdy, well-built trees. In fact, any pruning at all from an oak tree should ordinarily only involve removal of broken or damaged limbs. If that should ever happen, especially during the months when the nitidulid beetles are active, usually April, May and June, you should prune off the damaged branch quickly and treat the resulting wound to try and prevent entry by the beetles. In short, we feel you already have a fine, hurricane-resistant tree, don't mess with it.

 

More Pruning Questions

Area under live oaks from Austin
October 08, 2012 - We have many live oaks in our mostly shaded half acre. While I have tried to plant mostly native plants, often beneath them, the plants are showered with leathery leaves, acorns and sap, while oak sp...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming Texas Mountain Laurel
March 30, 2008 - Two questions: 1. My mountain laurel (10 yrs old) has never had blooms. Is this a gender plant issue? 2. I have been seeking a groundcover that grows in shade and will take foot (dog) traffic. ...
view the full question and answer

Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
May 17, 2013 - I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?
view the full question and answer

Trimming back freeze damage from Anacacho orchid in Liberty Hill TX
May 17, 2010 - When is it safe to trim back what I think is dead wood on my Anacacho orchid trees (that were hit hard this past winter)? Is there any harm done if I cut back living wood?
view the full question and answer

Sprout from a non-native sago palm in Poinciana FL
October 16, 2013 - I have two mature (10 years old)sago palms. One of them sprouted a new "head' at the top of the trunk. It is competing with the original one. It is not a pup coming from the root area. Can I cut it ...
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