Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Friday - April 10, 2009

From: Schertz, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Young oak tree with dead branches
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I purchased my home new a year ago and we have three young oak trees that came with the house. Two of the trees are doing great and their new leaves have grown in. One tree however still has dead leaves on it. The branches appear to be dead but there are new shoots growing from the trunk. It's about 7 1/2 feet tall amd the trunk is about 6 inches in diameter. What should we do? Thank you for your time.

ANSWER:

If the branches are really dead, there isn't any way to revive them.  However, it sounds as if there is at least some life left in the tree.  You can wait a bit to see if it continues to leaf out further up the trunk and onto any of the branches or parts of the branches.  This is probably not likely, but you don't really have anything to lose by waiting a few weeks. When you are convinced that you know what part is dead, prune it away and let the rest grow out as it will.  This may give you a strange-shaped tree.  I would give it a good soaking periodically until you determine how much is dead.  If you are convinced it is mostly dead, you might want to start over with another young tree. 

If you do decide to prune, you should consider carefully what time of year you do it. Oak wilt is a serious disease of several species of oaks that occur in or adjacent to Guadalupe County—Quercus buckleyi (Buckley oak), Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak), Quercus fusiformis (plateau live oak), Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak), and Quercus virginiana (live oak).  Other oaks in your area—Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak), Quercus stellata (post oak) and Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak)—are less susceptible to the fungus that causes oak wilt.

To help prevent oak wilt the Texas Forest Service recommends NOT pruning oak trees from February through June—the period of the year when the beetles that transfer the fungus to the tree are most active. Additionally, no matter what time of year it is, you should paint cuts and wounds with tree wound paint as soon as they are made.

 

More Trees Questions

Brown rings on grass under live oaks in Austin
June 13, 2013 - There are brown rings in the grass at the dripline on several Live Oak trees in our neighborhood. What causes this? The trees appear healthy.
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas wild olive tree in Tucson
November 15, 2010 - Planted a Texas Olive tree in Tucson, Az. Some of the leaves are kind of yellow. It gets part sun and part shade and is growing. Is this due to too much water, not enough water or does it need somet...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for Palm Springs CA
July 04, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants I have a 6 foot block wall, and my house is elevated, and I need a privacy hedge or tree (even flowering) to create more privacy. I do not want to use Ficus as I hear they can d...
view the full question and answer

Safe grazing for donkeys and goats from Osteen FL
June 30, 2012 - I am having a very difficult time trying to find shrubs, hedges, plants, flowers, or trees etc. that are safe for donkeys and goats. We live in Zone 9 and have a small farm. I've had to pull every ...
view the full question and answer

Is California fan palm found on Edwards Plateau from Austin
January 18, 2013 - Is the following Palm, Washingtonia filifera, found in the Texas Hill Country, specifically the Edwards Plateau or Balcones Canyonlands NWR.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.