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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.

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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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Saturday - August 22, 2009

From: Eureka, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Leaves falling off live oak tree in Eureka TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have the same question; it is in Navarro County in August. The leaves are falling off my live oak tree, they are brownish yellow, but it is not oak wilt. What might it be? This year I put mulch around the tree with plants, could I be drowning the tree?

ANSWER:

We are assuming you were referring to an earlier question from Gregg Co. Texas, with the same problem. Aside from the fact that this has been a very hard year, even in East Texas, for heat and drought, there are several other things that can cause yellowing. If you just recently planted the oak, it could be suffering from transplant shock, especially if it was planted in the heat, rather than in mid-winter, when the tree would be semi-dormant. Yellowish leaves could indicate chlorosis, or lack of iron being taken up by the tree from the soil. This is often caused  by poor drainage and/or dense clay soil, which causes water to stand on the roots. Again, this could  be a problem caused by planting, perhaps without any organic material added to hole, or damage to the tiny rootlets that take up water and trace elements, including iron, from the soil. From a distance, we have no way of diagnosing your tree's problems, nor of recommending a solution. You say you know you don't have oak wilt, but we hope you did look at the link to identify it in that previous answer.

Your best bet for finding out what is wrong with your oak and how to treat is to contact the Navarro County AgriLife Extension Service agent, the Texas Forest Service or consult a professional arborist.

 

 

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