En EspaŅol

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
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

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

Best pine tree for northern Illinois
October 03, 2010 - I live in Schaumburg,IL. What would be the best type of pine tree to plant?
view the full question and answer

Replacing vegetation lost to hurricane
October 15, 2008 - Between Rita & Ike, I have lost over 40 beautiful trees, most red, white & post oaks. I have 6 very large (7' in diameter) pines that tried to pull up and are now leaning toward my house. They are sc...
view the full question and answer

Trees and other plants for privacy along lake shoreline
March 09, 2013 - We are purchasing a new home that has a 2 acre lake. We would like to add some plants/trees for privacy around the shore line. Can you suggest something that would fill in nicely and is strong enoug...
view the full question and answer

Trouble with live oak in McKinney, TX
June 13, 2013 - We moved into a suburban home with a live oak tree with a trunk diameter of about 50". I noticed recently how yellow the leaves look compared to the other live oak in the yard. There is not a pattern...
view the full question and answer

Tree to replace Betula nigra (River birch) in Memphis
August 13, 2012 - HI Mr. Smarty Pants, I think I need to replace the river birch tree in my west-facing front yard in Memphis, TN. I have sun all day, but it gets really hot in the afternoon. The soil in my yar...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center