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
6 ratings

Sunday - May 24, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Should hole in escarpment live oak be filled in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Regarding one of my mature escarpment live oaks: should an old hole (about 8" across) in the trunk (caused by the improper cutting of a branch) be filled? A tree service technician advised me that he should fill it in as the hole could fill with water and rot the tree. This hole has been there quite a while. Please help.

ANSWER:

We're not very clear about the character or cause of this "old hole" in your Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak). Are you saying that a branch was cut off and the hole formed by rotting or some other deterioration? A trimmed branch should be cut pretty flush with the trunk of the tree, and painted immediately with a paint for that purpose to help deter the entrance of Oak Wilt fungus, especially in the months of January to May, when the nitiludid beetle is active. In fact, no trimming at all should be done during those months, and damage to the bark or branches should always be avoided. Is it actually a hole opening into the interior of the trunk, or just a depression where it healed over? Either way, we can't diagnose the problem from a distance, but the filling it in (with what?) to keep water from filling the hole and causing rot sounds a little strange.  If the person who recommended this is a licensed arborist, and you have confidence in his advice, ask him what he proposes to fill the hole with.

We found a website from AllExperts Trees-hole in oak tree which describes the various ways holes can be caused in trees and some now disproved theories about what to do about those holes, including filling the cavity. You should read the whole article and especially note this excerpt:

"How should trees with cavities be treated? Recent research shows that it is better to leave the cavity open - remember no type of drainage, sterilization, fill material, wound paint, or scraping treatment stops decay - and simply take the necessary measures required to improve the overall health of the tree. A healthy tree has the strength to compartmentalize and wall-off decay." 

Before you agree to any treatment of your tree, we suggest a "second opinion."  You need someone who has been trained in care of trees, a licensed arborist, to look at it and make recommendations. Perhaps the Travis County Extension Office can recommend someone or at least what certifications they recognize. Go to this Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension website for Travis County. It has contact information and they are trained to help you with this kind of problem.


Quercus fusiformis

Quercus fusiformis

Quercus fusiformis

Quercus fusiformis

 

 

More Trees Questions

Failure to thrive of pecan trees in Las Vegas NV
October 11, 2009 - In April this year I purchased two 8-foot tall pecan trees in 3-foot square boxes from a local nursery and planted them here in Southern Nevada. I'm sure I dug a large enough hole to provide plenty ...
view the full question and answer

Drought Resistant Privacy Screen for North Side of Austin Texas House
July 10, 2016 - We live in the densely populated Mueller development, where there's barely 3 feet from our home to the 6 foot high privacy fence between us and the house next door. Since the houses are 2 stories, we ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting non-native crape myrtle in Scottsdale AZ
May 11, 2014 - When is the best time to transplant dwarf crape myrtle in Scottsdale AZ?
view the full question and answer

Trees to hide telephone poles and wires
September 28, 2009 - I am looking for trees to plant between my house and the street to hide telephone poles and wires. My top priority is to add strong, gold color in the fall. Spring flowers would be a plus. Because ...
view the full question and answer

Dwarf golden cypress outgrowing their space
December 28, 2008 - I planted two dwarf golden cypress on opposite sides of a dwarf alberta spruce in a small bed by the front door. After 4 years I have to severely prune back the dwarf cypress in spring as they will sp...
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