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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - August 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Live oak sprouts in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I control the hundreds of live oak sprouts our lovely trees are throwing off? We recently landscaped with rain gardens and the related drainage ditches; they are filled with these very happy sprouts.

ANSWER:

The sprouts coming up could either be suckers off the roots of your existing live oaks, or seedlings from a very good crop of acorns. Either way, they need to be physically removed, by pulling them out. If the terrain permits, you could try mowing very low. If you deny the roots of acorn seedlings the ability to produce leaves long enough, the roots (and the seedling) will starve.

Suckers from the roots are another thing altogether. One of the big problems with live oaks in Central Texas is Oak Wilt. One of the ways live oaks grow is in mottes, or clusters, caused by uncontrolled suckering off the parent tree(s). As these clusters develop, their roots are intertwined; an introduction of the fungus causing Oak Wilt then becomes widespread as it travels through all those roots. Any herbicide you use can easily affect the parent tree, which you certainly don't want to do.

If what you have is mostly seedlings, raking up and removing the acorns in the Fall is the first, best thing to do to prevent more. The next is to be vigilant and pull up any sprout you see-it may be a sucker, it may be a seedling, but either way, pulling out and not permitting it to develop leaves will help eliminate the problem. We realize you probably would like us to recommend a spray you can purchase at the local nursery that will disable the sprouts and harm nothing else. We would love to do that, too, but there isn't one. 

 

More Trees Questions

Questions about care and pruning of Mexican Plum and Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
January 24, 2012 - I have a couple of questions regarding tree care and pruning. I have a Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana), about 10 years old or so. I would like to prune it. Is it ok to prune now in late wi...
view the full question and answer

Planting annuals around young oak in Evanston IL
July 30, 2011 - is it OK to plant annuals (i.e. salvias, impatiens or dusty millers) around the base of a young oak tree (2-3 years old)?
view the full question and answer

Is it wise to cut suckers from live oak branches in April in Austin
April 07, 2010 - My live oak branches are filling with suckers and I would like to cut them now, April. Is that wise?
view the full question and answer

Pruning Texas madrone trees from Utopia TX
August 19, 2012 - I have a number of large Texas Madrone trees on my ranch in Utopia Texas. A few of them have dead limbs and I was wondering whether I should cut off the dead limbs or just leave the tree alone. I wa...
view the full question and answer

Plants for heavy clay in Sonoma County, California
July 10, 2013 - Hi, I live in Northern California, Sonoma County, and would like to transition my front garden into mostly native plants. Trouble is, my soil is clay, yicky, heavy clay, and some of the natives I've ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center