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
5 ratings

Monday - October 19, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: About Live Oak trees in Austin, Texas
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Hello, I planted a couple texas live oak two years ago in South Austin. They're about 5 feet tall. How long will it take for them to mature? Thanks

ANSWER:

The short answer to your question is that the Quercus virginiana (live oak) trees mature in about 50 years, more or less. They are actually one of the faster growing trees when in an ideal environment, growing about three feet a year when young.  As they get larger, the growth rate tapers off. What follows may be more than you want to know, but I just can't stop myself. Mr. Smarty Plants likes native Texas trees!

The happiest live oaks are planted in soil, sand, clay, or loam that is acid and kept well watered, especially when young. That said, the live oak is a relatively hardy tree and adapts readily to drought and alkaline soil though it may be harmed by freezing temperatures further north. Thought to be evergreen, Quercus virginiana (live oak) and its cousin, Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak) actually replace about half of their glossy, waxy leaves annually in early spring.

Many like to shape the young oaks through pruning. Oak wilt is endemic in central Texas and can be spread through injudicious pruning as the Nitiludid beetle invades the new cuts. Pruning must be done only in the coldest or hottest months in central Texas when the beetle is less active. Learn more about how to correctly prune at our Wildflower Center site and more about preventing oak wilt through the Texas Oak Wilt website

Texans love their live oaks with good reason. A popular shade tree in Central Texas, the live oak can grow to between 30-80 feet in height. It is often wider than it is high with wonderful sturdy branches that spread horizontally before reaching for the sky, perfect for climbing or maybe a tree house. (One needs to consider the space needed for the mature tree before planting!) Austin is well known for the 500-year old Treaty Oak, still hanging on after several assaults. It is located downtown on Baylor between 5th and 6th Streets.  An excellent history and a photo of Treaty Oak is on the Wikipedia website. A stunning live oak located behind the Hampton Branch of Austin Public Library in Oak Hill at 5125 Convict Hill Road was named Austin's Tree of the Year in 2007. An outdoor classroom created by local Rotarians is located under its broad branches.


Quercus fusiformis

Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana
 

Quercus virginiana

 

More Trees Questions

Non-blooming parsley hawthorn in Madison MS
April 25, 2010 - I have a parsley hawthorn that has never bloomed. It is thriving in a low area under tall pines. It gets filtered sun most of the day with more direct sun in late afternoon. I don't know the age but...
view the full question and answer

Distance from existing structures to plant a tree in New York
March 05, 2009 - I would like to plant a large maple or birch near my suburban home. How far away from my home, garage, or any buildings should the seed be planted?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen trees for a Southern California yard
July 08, 2011 - Hello I live in Irvine, CA and I am looking for a tree for our front yard. We recently planted oaks but they did not survive the clay soil. Our landscaper wants to replace them with oaks or with ...
view the full question and answer

Fruit crops to grow in Tennessee mountains
May 27, 2013 - My property has a lot of rock formations throughout it and has hundreds of cedars where it is not pasture. I am wanting to grow fruit trees and berry bushes but don't know what can grow in this e...
view the full question and answer

Trees for Parker, Colorado that will not harm horses
March 21, 2009 - we are searching for trees that will grow well in Parker Colorado and not be poisonous to our horses
view the full question and answer

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