From:Round Rock, TX Region: Southwest Topic: Trees Title: Fertilizer and application for live oak trees Answered by: Dean Garrett
What do I use to feed live oak trees?
How do I apply the fertilzer?
A standard fertilizer should be fine. One landscaper I interviewed advised an 8-2-4 compost-based fertilizer, meaning 8% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus, and 4% potassium. Others weren't so specific as to proportions, saying only "standard" or "regular."
All my informants said that if the tree is a naturally occurring specimen that has survived on its own without human intervention and still looks good, nothing may be needed. However, if the tree is now surrounded by new construction that may have damaged its roots, a fertilizer with significant phosphorus for root growth will help it adjust. Significant phosphorus will also be needed if your tree is a newly planted purchase that you want to encourage to spread its roots beyond its root ball.
All said that surface applications are best. Spread the fertilizer from near, but not on, the trunk, to a foot past the extent of the leaves.
A couple of friends of mine have maintained beautiful live oaks for two decades with little more than compost applied two or three inches thick from near the base of the tree to just past the dripline.
A deep, slow, soaking watering just after you fertilize will insure that the nutrients get to the roots. Doing it just before a good rain is even better.
Whatever you use should be applied once or twice a year. The most important time to fertilize is in early spring, just before new foliage appears, to help fuel the new growth. Though considered evergreen, live oaks (Quercus fusiformis, Quercus virginiana, or hybrids between the two) actually lose all their leaves in early to mid-spring, but the new growth appears about the same time that the old leaves drop, so most trees never look bare.
A second application in early summer can help fortify the tree during the harsh Central Texas heat.
More Trees Questions
Lightning protection of smooth bark cypress October 05, 2008 - I have been told that the smooth bark cypress stores a large amount of water at its base and if lightning strikes, it will explode and extinguish the flames. Could you tell me if this is a myth? I'... view the full question and answer
Non-native Sago palm roots damaging house foundation from Keystone Heights FL July 03, 2013 - Will sago palms roots hurt a house's foundation if too close? view the full question and answer
Bird-attracting trees in Marble Falls TX May 24, 2010 - What fruiting trees/shrubs other than red mulberry are good to attract native birds (and for bird watching opportunities)? We'd prefer native species, but does white mulberry attract as many bird sp... view the full question and answer
Tulip tree with white spots on leaves in Mississippi July 31, 2008 - I have a tulip tree in my yard that blooms in the spring that is about 10-15 years old. However just this past week or so we have noticed that there is lots of white spots on the leaves and the branc... view the full question and answer