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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 02, 2009

From: Heath, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: How to care for newly transplanted Live Oak.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I planted 3 B & B, 6" caliper live oaks in February and they lost most of their leaves during the normal time but when the new leaves grew back the amount of leaves were quite a bit less. I have three questions: Is that normal for a newly planted dug tree? I am now having quite a few leaves turn yellow, what is the possible cause? The tree farm is recommending me to water these trees 2 times a week with either 50 gallons in a tree gator or a water hose for 70 minutes at a 1/2 inch rate 2 times a week, is that too much water?

ANSWER:

A six-inch caliper tree is a big one to transplant and difficult to do successfully.

It is fortunate that your tree is a Live Oak since it did change it's leaves just after you transplanted it.  Here's why.  The tree produced only as many leaves as its roots could support with water and nutrients.  As spring wore on into summer and the weather has become hotter and drier, your tree is now shedding some of those leaves in order to protect the whole tree.  So yes, it is normal for your tree to behave the way it has.

The watering recommendation from the tree farm sounds reasonable through the summer.  When the weather cools, or when rain occurs, you'll want to cut back on watering.  However, winter is very hard on trees, too, so don't stop watering completely then.  Just don't give it as much as you are now.

 

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