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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - November 21, 2009

From: Roswell, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Treating cuts in tree trunks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have two young trees that deer made bad cuts in the trunks. What can we put on cuts to keep bugs and disease from getting in them.? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Treating cuts and wounds in trees by applying wound dressing is a controversial subject. We in Texas with a high incidence of oak wilt disease, a fungal (Ceratocystis fagacearum) disease carried by nitidulid beetles, are urged to paint all wounds on oak trees to prevent infection; however, there are many horticulturists (e.g., Chalker-Scott from Washington State University and the Master Gardeners Program from Penn State Cooperative Extension) who say that painting wounds may be more harmful than helpful by trapping moisture and encouraging rot and fungal growth. Your own University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service recommends NOT using wound paint after tree pruning since it is likely to disrupt the tree's natural ability to compartmentalize the wound area and seal it off.  They recommend, instead, that you minimize mechanical damage to the tree.  With that in mind, Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that you put up a physical barrier to protect your tree trunks from deer antler damage.  Here are some commercial products that will do the job and also suggestions for making your own.

Sentree Treeguard

Wraparound plastic tree guards

Corrugated plastic tree guards

Miracle Tubes

You can also make your own using heavy duty plastic mesh or metal wire (chicken wire or hardware cloth) from the hardware store. You will need to check frequently to be sure the guard hasn't become tight around the tree as the trunk expands. Also, you should be sure the guards offer plenty of ventilation so that moisture doesn't build up between the guard and the trunk or so that the guard doesn't provide a area for insects to collect.  Here is an article from University of New Hampshire, "Tree Guards for Tree and Shrub Protection" with instructions for making tree guards.  Their guards are geared towards smaller animal (rodents and rabbits) damage, but the height of the guard could be increased for deer. 

Another option is to build a small diameter (2-3 feet) fence around each tree using metal fence stakes and wire mesh. How practical this option is probably depends on how many trees you need to protect.

 

More Pests Questions

Bare spot in Prairie Phlox in Austin
February 25, 2009 - I have Prairie Phlox in my garden that I have had for about 4 to 6 years. I got the original plant from the NPSOT at their booth one year at the Wildflower center. It is really lovely in the spring wh...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Lantanas
August 06, 2008 - Here at work we have 4 beautiful yellow Santanas(should I say had), the leaves have started to turn brown and no longer blooming. Appears to have a fungus or disease. Please help!
view the full question and answer

How to Control Pests on Plants for Sale
May 15, 2014 - I am renting a closed spot at a flea market, and am having trouble with several infestations at once, and I am not sure how to control them. I am currently having trouble with aphids, whiteflies, and ...
view the full question and answer

Small white bugs on indoor hibiscus in Ohio
November 25, 2008 - My Hibiscus has small white bugs on the leaves with small white residue. Looks like very small pieces of white rice. This white rice is also covering the UNOPENED buds and making them fall off. It ...
view the full question and answer

Food for wild rabbits in Shiro TX
July 15, 2009 - There are usually 1-2 cottontail rabbits sharing our 4 acre habitat that are suffering due to the lack of new growth caused by drought. Is there anything I can plant after this summer that would provi...
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