Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Wednesday - April 27, 2011

From: Winston-Salem, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Live Oak Leaf Drop in North Carolina
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We planted a 15 foot, approx. 3" caliber live oak tree last summer and it seemed very healthy throughout our unusually cold winter in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. (Winston-Salem). Now it's late April, the leaves have dropped and there seems to be no new growth. We have about 3-4" of mulch around the tree and the season so far has been very wet, so I don't think water is the issue. The tree is bare, with 'nodules' at the ends of the twigs/branches that I thought were buds. When I try to break off a twig, it is very green. I did insert 2 tree/plant spikes in early March about 4 feet away from the trunk. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

I suspect your live oak is Quercus virginiana (Coastal live oak). These trees are usually thought of as evergreens, but they actually shed their leaves every spring. In most cases, the leaf drop happens at the same time as new leaves come out, so the tree usually never goes bare (although it may lose color and appear less healthy). It may be that your cold winter has delayed the new leaves coming out, resulting in a bare tree.

Two pieces of advice:

First, be patient. The fact that you see green when you break a twig is good. That indicates the limb is alive. The "nodule" you describe very likely is a bud.

Second, look around. Are the other live oaks you see in a similar condition? If yours is significantly less leafed out than the others, it may be time to call in a professional arborist.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Can I make my large pecan trees produce larger nuts?
November 14, 2013 - I have 2 older large pecan trees about 40' tall but the nuts are very small, only about 1 1/2". What can I do to get larger nuts?
view the full question and answer

Fall Planting Colorado Blue Spruce in Indiana.
October 15, 2009 - I live in Northern Indiana, and I want to plant a couple of Colorado Blue Spruces that are 3-6 feet in height and Balled and Burlapped. Is it okay to plant them this time of year?
view the full question and answer

Thorny shrub for deterring break-ins in southeast Texas
February 05, 2013 - Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native.
view the full question and answer

Would like a small tree for yard in Las Vegas, NV.
May 31, 2013 - would like a small tree with root system that grows down not spread on surface. Had raywood and medesto ash tree both died of desease. Diagnosed by arborist. Stated that these trees to big for my yard...
view the full question and answer

Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas?
May 25, 2010 - Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it.. Thanks
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.