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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.

 

 

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