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

Transplanting a bald cypress from Houston
December 10, 2012 - We would like to transplant a bald cypress from front yard to back. It is about 10 ft tall, 3" trunk diameter, 2-1/2 years old and in good health. Any idea how large the root ball might need to be du...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers that grow in woodlands
June 22, 2011 - Please tell me the names of wildflowers that grow under your oak trees in Texas. I am only familiar with those open meadow plants, not those that live under the deciduous trees. Thank you for your t...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to Mexican olive in Austin
December 13, 2009 - I have a Mexican Olive tree/bush. It is young - about 8 ft. tall. This last freeze in Austin made many of its leaves turn black. I got this from your database: "Its native range extends no farther...
view the full question and answer

Pine trees for West Virginia
August 16, 2009 - I have two acres in the Canaan Valley, West Va. and would like to plant pine trees. What type would you recommend that the deers won't eat and the cold climate won't kill.
view the full question and answer

Trees starting to die in subdivision in Hutto, TX
May 31, 2012 - I live in Hutto Tx, in a subdivision where everyone has the 2 trees planted in the front yard. My trees have started to die, and I want to find out what kind they are to find a solution
view the full question and answer

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