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

Thursday - September 09, 2010

From: Driftwood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Trees
Title: When is the best time to trim oak trees in Driftwood TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

When is the best time to trim oak trees?

ANSWER:

This is kind of like a word association game: you say "black", I say "white"; you say "night", I say "day"; you say "trim oak trees", I say "oak wilt". This is because oak wilt is one of the most destructive tree diseases in the United States and is killing oak trees in Central Texas in epidemic proportions. It is an infectious disease caused by the fungus Ceratocyctis fagacearum which invades and disables the water-conducting system in susceptible trees. Oakwilt is spread by tiny wood boring beetles called nitidulid beetles that are attracted to the sap of oak trees. Fresh wounds in oaks draw these beetles like honey draws flies. The adult beetles carry spores of the infecting fungus on their bodies as they go from tree to tree and thus spread the disease.

Does this mean you can never trim you oak trees? No, but as in a lot of things, timing is everything. And, all species of oaks are not equaly susceptible to oak wilt. The nitidulid beeltes are least active in very cold weather and very hot weather, ie. in mid-winter and mid-summer (like right now). 

Mr. Smarty Plants suggests reading the material from the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership and the Texas Forest Service to become more knowledgable about oak wilt and the care of your oak trees. This article from  the USDA  is very extensive, and tells you more about oak wilt than you probably want to know. It is well-illustrated.

The Texas Forest Service also has an online article How to Prune Trees that should be helpful.

 

More Pruning Questions

How to deal with suckers on Flame-leaf Sumac
May 20, 2013 - Hi! It seems you can have too much of a good thing! Our flameleaf sumac is taking over our yard. There are multiple shoots appearing in our flower beds and in the lawn. How do I get rid of the unwante...
view the full question and answer

Pruning smooth azalea in NJ
July 12, 2011 - I have a Smooth Azalea growing in my woods. It was verified by the Master Gardeners of Burlington County New Jersey. It's 12 feet tall and lanky. Can it be trimmed in hopes of thickening up? If s...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back perennials from Austin
February 08, 2011 - When is it time to cut back native plants; salvia;copper canyon daisy; verbena, etc?
view the full question and answer

Pruning buttonbush from Pottsville PA
December 10, 2013 - In a formally planted park, a small area has become swampy. I have choosen to plant it with wet tolerant native plants. I would appreciate any suggestions on pruning the buttonbush [Cephalanthus occ...
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