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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - April 26, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Adventitious sprouts on oak tree in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I have an Oak tree which was planted in about 2002, which has adventitious sprouts. The tree has always sent these up, and we cut them off below ground. The tree has always been a 'runt', but is growing slowly and gaining more leaves up in the tree. I would like to keep the tree if possible and make it more healthy, but also stop the sprouts. Any information re/ how to help the tree and make the sprouts stop is most appreciated. Thanks.

ANSWER:

What you're doing is what you do about oak sprouts. If you try herbicide on the sprouts, it will go right into the tree, because those sprouts have no roots-their roots are the oak tree roots. And, when your oak tree gets big enought to drop acorns, it will add those to the sprouting trees in your garden. If you keep a sharp eye out, you can usually pull out the sprouting acorns by the root. The oak has a long taproot and will get that taproot going down into the soil as quickly as it can, so don't let it get ahead of you. And no poison-if you want to keep the oak.
 

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