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Friday - April 16, 2010

From: Floresville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Trees
Title: Failure to bud out of Shumard oaks in Floresville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Question: I have a Shumard red oak (9-10ft tall) that I planted last October as its leaves were turning a brilliant red color. However, it's the only tree that did not bud this spring. I scraped the trunk with my thumb nail and it appears that it's still very green but the finger limbs with the buds seem to have dried or died. I know we had a hard winter(2009-10) for south TX but what would cause this oak not to bud? What can I do to get it to come back this year or is the tree a lost cause? Quick note: I also planted another dozen live and red oak trees at approximately the same time. All the trees budded this spring and are flourishing to date. I use medina organic fertilizer(fertilized when the trees were planted and again this spring prior to budding) and cedar mulch (4-5 in deep). Is there anything else I can do to prevent this from happening to my other trees? I would appreciate any advice. Thank you for your time,


We agree that the weird weather we have been having, starting with a 2-year drought and high heat, beginning to get some rain again, and then sudden fast freezes in areas not accustomed to them has been a problem for all the native plants in Texas. Moreover, that is a pretty big oak to transplant.

Helium.com Tips for Transplanting Oak Trees:

"Transplanting an oak is a labor-intensive task. Oaks are most easily transplanted when they are small (under three feet tall) and less than three years old. Oaks develop a taproot that often can be almost as long as the tree is tall. Cutting the taproot usually results in the tree dying within months after it is planted. For this reason substantial digging is required so the whole tree (taproot and the root mass) can be removed from the hole."

So, what to do? At this point, nothing is good. No more fertilizer, that can shock roots of a tree under stress. The fact that you have found some green under the bark indicates that there is still a chance the tree will recover. Quercus shumardii (Shumard's oak) is a red oak and very susceptible to Oak Wilt disease. Don't do any pruning or trimming now, because now is when the Nitidulid beetle is active. That is the little beastie who goes to wounds in trees to dine on the sap, and leaves the fungus disease of Oak Wilt behind. You will want to prune off any branches that do appear to be dead, but give it some time. The best time to prune the Live Oak is between December 1 and February 1. The worst time is between February 15 and June 15. By the time it is safe to prune, you will probably know for sure if the tree is alive or dead. The Shumard Oak grows natively in or near Wilson County, in south central Texas, and should be able to recover. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Quercus shumardii

Quercus shumardii

Quercus shumardii

Quercus shumardii



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