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
1 rating

Wednesday - July 29, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: Watering oaks during drought in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Should we be watering our live oaks and Spanish oaks during this drought? How often and how much?

ANSWER:

There is no question that even old, well-established trees are going to need some extra help during the kind of drought we are having right now. There are several reasons this is so, as you will see in the Texas A&M AgriLIFE article Do Trees Scream Silently During Droughts?

This University of Illinois Extension website Dealing with the Drought affirms that watering even drought-resistant trees like the oak is essential. It points out that a 90 ft. oak tree will be a lot worse to lose than annual flowers or vegetables. We don't recommend watering at the base of the trunk, but watering farther out, with a hose or sprinklers, probably about every two weeks. An excerpt from this website will tell you why:

"Our 90-foot oak example could have roots at least 40 feet beyond the tree’s
drip-line. The same goes for most shrubs. So, apply water at the tree or
shrub’s drip-line, not at the trunk."

Those roots may be pretty deep, and part of the protection of the trees, but much of the root system is in the top 12 inches of the soil. So, putting the water out there helps to avoid fungus and rot at the base of the trunk. 

 

More Watering Questions

Blackening of top growth of yaupon in Sunrise Beach TX
June 09, 2010 - My question regards a Will Flemming yaupon which I am thinking may be within your scope of expertise. These were recently planted under windy conditions, then hit with a neighbors antiquated jet type ...
view the full question and answer

Restoring fire damage in Bastrop TX
November 03, 2011 - I live in the Bastrop State Park area. We were severely affected by the wildfire and as we are trying to rebuild our home, we are being very aware of the particularities of the recovery process. We lo...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping plant for Austin
September 01, 2011 - Great site! Have gotten lots of ideas. We're about to start construction on a fairly major landscaping project: raised beds/privacy screen. We're at the top of a hill in the Hill Country just wes...
view the full question and answer

Correct cultural conditions for liatris
April 15, 2008 - I recently bought some gayfeather (liatris pycnostachya) and planted in my yard in a nice full sun spot. Gets sun for roughly 10 hours a day. However, it's also the single driest spot in my yard (jus...
view the full question and answer

Removing water from local rivers to water garden from San Marcos TX
February 14, 2013 - I live in San Marcos Central Texas and my household experiments with a lot of organic gardening in our back yard, and I was wondering how using the surrounding rivers such as the Blanco or San Marcos ...
view the full question and answer

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