En Español

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

Tree resembling live oak, but with thorns
August 04, 2008 - I'm trying to ID a tree in our backyard, most of our trees are Live Oaks and the tree in question has a dark almost black and gray bark that looks just like a Live Oak. The leaves are similar but lig...
view the full question and answer

Something dripping from red oak in Austin
July 30, 2012 - There is a large red oak outside my apartment. The leaves are shiny and covered with what appears to be oil. The ground underneath is coated with this also. When I parked under the tree my car beca...
view the full question and answer

Tree for caliche soil in Cochise County, Arizona
August 15, 2012 - What trees will thrive in areas of moderate caliche soil in southeast Arizona? My property is at 4,200 feet of elevation. Thanks for your help
view the full question and answer

Sap oozing from trunks of Cherry Laurels in Austin, TX
January 24, 2015 - I have several mature compact cherry laurels whose leaves are beginning to turn yellow. They are in raised beds, have been properly fertilized, have compost spread around them, and are properly water...
view the full question and answer

Is it safe to burn Cedar in a fireplace?
December 04, 2014 - Is it safe to burn Cedar in our fireplace? I'm trying to thin out the population of Ashe Junipers on my property in Spicewood Tx. to give the young Live Oaks a chance to compete for sunlight and w...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center