Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 09, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Planting live oak trees in summer in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We would like to plant a few live oak trees in our front yard for shade and animal protection. As it is very hot and dry right now, can we plant now? If not, when?

ANSWER:

Not only no, but definitely no. You would be wasting your time and money, as well as water and fertilizer. Any tree planted right now would be under severe stress, and unlikely to live more than a few weeks, and that would be off of reserve supplies in the tree at the time of planting. Planting live oaks this time of year would be even worse. It's difficult to plant any tree without nicks or damage of some kind in the bark of the tree. In the live oaks and red oaks, this would result in seepage of sap from the wound, and that would result in a gathering of nitidulid beetles, which would probably be carrying Oak Wilt fungus spores from an infected tree somewhere else. That in turn would endanger all the similar oaks in the neighborhood. There are enough problems with Oak Wilt in the Austin area without sending out an engraved invitation to the beetles.

Quite aside from Oak Wilt, young trees planted this time of year are almost certainly doomed, anyway. The tiny-hairlike rootlets from the larger roots that go into the soil for moisture and nutrients are usually damaged when a tree is planted. To put a tree into the ground when the ground is hot and dry, and the air is hotter and dryer, is signing the death certificate. In fact, this is true of any woody plant, trees and shrubs.

We know it's natural to think of shade in weather like this, but, as we have already said, you're not going to get much joy out of anything you plant now and that tree is not going to be big enough to create much shade for a few years anyway.

While you are waiting for Winter, we suggest you read the entire website Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership and our Step-by-Step Guide How to Plant a Tree.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Are mountain laurel beans safe to use as rattles with small children?
September 19, 2012 - Is it safe to use the mountain laurel mescalbean pods as shakers or rattles, as long as the pods are not open and the seeds left unexposed? If a small child (very small, who has no way to open the ...
view the full question and answer

Wanting to grow a Buckley Oak in Amarillo, TX
January 20, 2016 - I live in Amarillo Texas in the Texas Panhandle. I recently became interested in the Buckley Oak and was wondering if it might grow well here and if so, where I might find one that I could purchase a...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of saving hurricane-damaged Umbrella Magnolia
October 12, 2005 - Our beautiful umbrella magnolia Magnoliaceae Magnolia tripetala was toppled during Hurricane Katrina. We have lifted it back in place, however it looks very distressed. I have the following questions:...
view the full question and answer

Solution for wet area near fence
April 07, 2010 - I just moved into a house that is 10 years old on the north side of Houston, Texas. When it rains the water pools about 1 to 3 inches deep around the beds with trees (pine, sweet gum and chinaberry) ...
view the full question and answer

What are the differences between Arbutus xalapensis, A. unedo and A. marina
August 29, 2013 - One nursery lists madrone trees as arbutus uneda compacta and arbutus marina. The other lists it as arbutus xalapensis, which is the only name I can find in the data base. There is a very large pric...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.