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 - February 17, 2011

From: Stevens Point, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the branches?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is not sure which earlier question you are referring to, but I suspect it may be this one that discussed pruning oak trees in central Texas. There are some important differences between Texas and Wisconsin besides the way we talk.

February in Central Texas is often more like spring than like winter. In fact, as I write this, on February 17, it is 74 degrees here in Austin. So, the insects that spread oak wilt get active earlier around here than where you live.

Here is a link to a USDA Forest Service site that discusses prevention of oak wilt in Wisconsin. This is a portion of their advice:

Do not prune or wound oaks during their entire growing season. The growing season begins when the buds swell in early spring and ends in fall when frosts and freeze-up occurs. The beginning and end dates of the growing season vary each year, depending on weather conditions in different areas of the state. Please be aware that avoiding pruning and wounding of oak trees during the entire growing season is a more cautious approach than is recommended in most publications. If an oak tree must be pruned or is wounded during the growing season, immediately cover the wound with a tree wound paint.

Mr. Smarty Plants would add to this that, whenever you cut a limb that is bigger than your thumb, you should always paint the wound and you should always disinfect your tools prior to cutting with a 10% bleach solution. Do this before you begin and again between each tree.

 

More Trees Questions

Tree well for partially exposed roots from Lake Kiowa TX
May 05, 2012 - Medium oak tree along lake has partially exposed roots. Can we make a barrier (what kind?) and fill the roots behind it with topsoil, compost, etc.? Tree and roots are above the waterline. Lake occ...
view the full question and answer

Will catalpa roots damage a nearby swimming pool?
July 13, 2013 - Will a catalpa tree cause problems to my swimming pool? It is 8 feet away and I cut all the branches off every fall. It then grows back to about 6 feet in diameter an makes a great garden feature but ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees to withstand high winds on Top Sail Island, North Caroloina.
August 20, 2013 - Moving to coastal southern North Carolina. Planting native trees and shrubs, wax bayberry, Redbud, love the River Birch. What type of tree has the deepest roots or would be least likely to blow over...
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae thinning in Bucks County, PA
April 09, 2010 - My arborvitae trees are about 11 ft. tall. I had them put in about 3 years ago. They were 8 to 10 ft. when planted. After the first year, I have noticed they are thinning to the point where you can se...
view the full question and answer

Having a problem with my Mexican Plum in Houston, TX.
July 05, 2011 - I am having problems with the Mexican Plum Tree in my backyard, sap is oozing from the branches and several large branches have died. I am inclined to think that it I have infestation of borers? How ...
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