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
1 rating

Friday - February 06, 2009

From: Llano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Trimming a bur oak in Llano, TX
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

We have a beautiful, large Burr Oak next to our house. This tree has many large lateral branches. I have trimmed dead branches, but no other trimming. It grows a lot of "suckers" during growing season. Several of the branches droop almost touching the ground. I would like to clean up this tree but don't want to do the wrong thing. The tree appears very healthy. Any trimming tips would be appreciated. Thanks

ANSWER:

In caring for your Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak),  Mr. Smarty Plants sees three options for you. First, do nothing and let it behave in its natural way, suckers and all, with the wind pruning dead limbs. Second, research how to prune and do it yourself. And, third, engage a licensed, certified arborist. The description you have given of your tree makes it clear that you have a very special and valuable feature in your landscape.  You may want to consider the third option, as arborists are specialists in the care of trees. There is no substitute for trained eyes and professional advice regarding the care of such an important tree and when it comes to the potential for tree disease and pruning large trees, they have all the right tools and take all the risks.

However, it sounds like you are interested in learning about trimming oaks, so let's explore that. You are wise to be concerned about doing the right thing as oak wilt disease is common in Texas. Oak wilt disease is a caused by a fungus introduced into the trees by the Nitidulid beetles, which are most active in warm weather from February through May. Cuts or wounds to the tree may allow introduction of the beetles. The best time to prune the tree would be during a cold snap November to January. Branches that are completely dead may be removed at any time; it is only open wounds in living tissue that are attractive to the offending beatles. No matter what time of year you remove living branches of oaks the wounds should be immediately covered with pruning paint. Learn more about Oak Wilt at the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership page "Guidelines for Proper Pruning to Prevent Oak Wilt Infection" and "Studies on Pruning Cuts and Wound Dressings for Oak Wilt Control." Both have excellent information on treating pruning cuts. Alternatively, check out this Texas A&M Extension site "Follow Proper Pruning Techniques" on pruning or this ehow.com site, "How to Trim Your Trees."

In short, you may want to postpone this trimming job, however it is accomplished, for a few months.  


Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

 

 

More Trees Questions

Deciduous tree with tap root
August 04, 2008 - I have a 13 foot space between two town houses and would like to plant a slender deciduous tree up to 30 feet in height with a tendency to tap root so as not to disturb the foundation of the houses. ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting aspens and Colorado blue spruce trees
August 18, 2009 - Please help me with info on transplanting aspen and blue spruce trees in Colorado. I live at 8600ft and have tons of deer. thx
view the full question and answer

Does Mexican plum require more than one plant for successful pollination?
May 25, 2011 - Re: Mexican plums.. Do I need to plant more than 1 to ensure proper pollination? I have always been told that commercial plums need at least 2 to pollinate properly for consistent plum production. A...
view the full question and answer

Quercus polymorpha or Mexican white oak
June 19, 2007 - On the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership website, they list a "Monterrey Oak" as one of the White Oaks (#3 in the FAQ section). I cannot find Monterrey Oak in your Explore Plants section; does...
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
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