En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
15 ratings

Thursday - February 04, 2010

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Trees
Title: Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.

ANSWER:

Once upon a time it was standard practice to treat an open wound on any tree with tree-wound dressing.  However, research showed that painting tree wounds inhibited healing and sometimes actually promoted the growth of tree pathogens by providing them with a protected place and ideal conditions to grow beneath the paint.

Today, the general consensus among arborists is to forego the use of tree-wound sealant and allow fresh wounds to remain exposed to the fresh air where they can heal naturally.

However, live oaks and many other species in the genus, Quercus are exceptions to the rule.  The freshly-cut stumps of oak limbs should always be immediately painted with tree-wound dressing as a prophylactic measure against the spread of Oak Wilt Disease.  Oak Wilt is spread by tiny wood-boring beetles that are attracted to the sap of oak trees.  Fresh wounds on oak trees draw these beetles like porch lights draw moths.  The adult beetles carry on their bodies the fungus that causes Oak Wilt Disease wherever they go and in that way spread the disease.  Be sure and use tree-wound dressing especially made for that purpose.  Regular paint often contains ingredients harmful to trees.

Timing is also important in preventing Oak Wilt Disease spread.  The disease-vectoring beetles are active only when the weather is not too hot nor too cold.  So pruning live oaks only in mid-winter and mid-summer is advised.

Please visit the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership website more information on Oak Wilt Disease, how you can protect your trees and help prevent its spread.

Finally, proper pruning technique is every bit as important to your trees' health as whether or not you use tree paint.  The US Forest Service has published an excellent on-line article called, How to Prune Trees, that you will benefit from reading.

 

More Trees Questions

Replacement for a globe willow tree
July 27, 2009 - We are interested in replacing a pine tree with a globe willow because they grow fast but everything i have been reading about them scares me. is there another tree comparable to a globe willow that g...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screening of House Next Door in NC
June 26, 2013 - Hello, I live in the house my parents bought in 1971 in Winston-Salem, NC. The house beside me is an eyesore and for sale at a very low price. I am afraid the condition of the house and yard next door...
view the full question and answer

Selecting a tree for a backyard in San Antonio, TX
May 11, 2013 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently moved into a home in West San Antonio right outside Loop 1604..my treeless backyard is fairly small at about 55 ft long and 15 ft wide. I am torn because I can't ...
view the full question and answer

Would like fast growing evergreen trees in Austin, TX.
October 31, 2012 - Hi, We're moving to Southwest Austin and would like to plant a cluster of pines (or cypress trees?) or other fast growing, large and tall evergreen trees. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Thornless honeylocust trees for Taylor TX
September 21, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Williamson County, in central Texas and I am interested in selecting trees for my backyard. I can't really explain (it may be my Midwestern roots), but I would like to plant three t...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center