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
Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa... view the full question and answer
Privacy Trees for New Jersey March 02, 2011 - My neighbor elevated a row of white pine between our houses at least 20 feet high leaving me with NO privacy and a row of ugly lollipops. What trees can I plant that will be fast growing and deer resi... view the full question and answer
What are the green round growths on the edges of my oak leaves in Fairfax, OK May 21, 2013 - round growths on the edge of oak leaves. ranging in size from a pearl to a lime. ranging in color from pale green to lime green. hollow, small ones appear to contain one small gnat sized seed. the la... view the full question and answer
Trimming oaks and elms from New Braunfels TX June 20, 2012 - I would like to trim my live oaks and elm trees at the same time, if possible. I think they are American Elms. When is the best time to do this and avoid oak wilt and Dutch elm disease? Should all c... view the full question and answer
Dying trees in San Marcos, Texas September 24, 2011 - I live on 11 acres in San Marcos and cannot water at all during this drought. All of my oaks and mountain laurels are turning brown. Does this mean they are all dying? Will they come back in the sp... view the full question and answer