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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Identification of gooseberry plant
July 12, 2007 - Grew up in Colorado, our yard and several near us had medium to large size deciduous shrubs that produced small (.25"-.375") red berries that were very tomato-like. Delicate with a thin skin, sligh...
view the full question and answer

Control of live oak suckers by cutting
July 23, 2007 - How do I control the Live Oak root suckers? At the moment we are cutting them as they come out of the ground.
view the full question and answer

Butterfly bushes and weed killer in Pueblo West CO
August 27, 2011 - I have 3 previously healthy butterfly bushes that have one by one developed masses of tiny yellowish-green compact leaves. The entire bush went from its normal healthy appearance to something that res...
view the full question and answer

Sticky sap (honeydew) on car
July 10, 2012 - MY CAR IS CONSTANTLY COVERED WITH STICKY SAP. I LIVE IN AN AREA WITH MANY COCONUT PALMS AND OTHER TREES. COULD THE SAP BLOW AROUND EVEN THOUGH I KEEP CHANGING THE PARKING?
view the full question and answer

Oak sap dripping on driveway in Austin
November 06, 2011 - Why would oak sap be dripping on driveway at this time when other oaks the neighbors have are not.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center