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
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

Cuttings from beautyberry from Stockport OH
May 22, 2014 - My beauty berry is starting a new growth about 2ft from main plant, can I dig this and part of the root without hurting the main part, if so, when?
view the full question and answer

When and how to prune lavender (Lavandula sp.)
March 20, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I have a Goodwin Creek Lavender plant that I planted last year. It did very well but my question is about pruining. It seems that there is some growth coming up now that it...
view the full question and answer

Trimming native salvias in January
January 17, 2008 - I have heard you can trim Hot Lips, Raspberry and other salvias back severely in January, to about six inches from the ground. Is this correct?
view the full question and answer

Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
August 27, 2009 - Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on mockoranges
May 25, 2005 - I live in Colorado where it is common to have 1 or 2 late frosts. I planted 4 littleleaf mockoranges (Philadelphus Microphyllus) 2 years ago and they are pretty much in full sun most of the day. I h...
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