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

Is Carolina laurel (Prunus caroliniana) a good choice for San Juan Islands, Washington?
November 03, 2007 - What are the prospects for Carolina laurel here on San Juan Island, mixed in with thin stand of douglas fir, about 50 feet from shore, eastern exposure? Water is available but little sun because of l...
view the full question and answer

How Close to Tree Trunks Should Bricks be Placed?
January 26, 2016 - Do you have guidelines as to how close bricks can be placed to trees, particularly cypress, cedars and live oaks? Contractors habitually plant up to the trunk and I've had trees die from their roots...
view the full question and answer

Non-native mimosa failing to bloom in Leitchfield KY
October 29, 2011 - I have a medium size mimosa tree here in KY that usually blooms beautifully; it did not bloom at all this year. It leafed out well, needs a few dead limbs pruned, but seems otherwise healthy. Please t...
view the full question and answer

Laurel oak tree not leafing out in Pasadena TX
April 13, 2010 - Hurricane Ike blew down our red bud in the backyard. Had a large 25' laurel oak planted early March 2010. When it was put in the ground, the leaves were on it, but they were all brown and dried. T...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening from Prosperity SC
May 19, 2013 - I need to know what would be a good tree to plant for blocking my neighbor's home it needs to be an evergreen and slender in the space it would take.
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center