En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Do all tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera) flower?
June 02, 2009 - Do all tulip trees flower? We planted a baby one about 5 years ago and its grown considerably however it has never flowered. Is that normal? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Identification of small tree in Florida
August 31, 2012 - I live in Port Saint Lucie, FL. We have a few trees (?) growing in our yard I would like to i.d. They seem to grow quickly have smooth leaves that grow opposite one another and the underside of the ...
view the full question and answer

Root suckers growing from base of oak in California
November 24, 2008 - I planted four trees labeled by the nursery when purchased as "Louisiana Oaks" approximately 20 yrs ago in my front yard. All trees are growing well but one of the four has a progressing mass of ro...
view the full question and answer

Effect of unusual wet weather on desert willows
July 23, 2007 - I live in North Central Texas and have 3 beautiful Desert willow trees that are usually in full bloom. I've kept them pruned to form a nice full tree shape but now they are losing leaves and looking ...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted Chinquapin Oak with browning leaves in Marlin, TX.
July 31, 2012 - We planted a Chinquapin Oak this in March 2012. As of July 21, 2012, the tips of the leaves on the lower branches are turning brown. We cannot see any insects. There does not appear to be any fungu...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center