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

Friday - July 01, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: What fertlilizer for live oaks under drought conditions?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

In your June 7 answer about helping live oaks survive the drought, you state that additional fertilization may help as well. What kind of fertilizer to you recommend and how should it be applied? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Tree specialists don't agree on a particular type of fertilizer, one recommending  13:13:13 (nitrogen:phosphorus:potassium), while others just say a "standard" fertilizer will suffice and still others do not mention fertilization under drought conditions.  Mr. Smarty Plants suggests an organic nitrogen (slow-release) fertilizer such as 8:2:4.  Follow the instructions on the package, but apply a fairly low amount of the fertilizer around the trees near their drip lines.  Too much fertilizer could promote new leaf formation - not good in drought times.  If the trees seem to be relatively healthy you might well delay applying the fertilizer until September, which is the normal time.

Make sure you don't use Weed-N-Feed fertilizer.  This has a herbicide that kills broad-leaf plants, including oaks!  Water the fertilizer in well after application. Hopefully there is some sort of mulch of leaves or other plant material on the soil to help retard water evaporation.

And pray for a good, slow rain.

 

More Trees Questions

Washingtonia palms need to be skirted?
August 31, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have five Washingtonia palms on my property that have never been skirted and look rather shabby. The interesting thing is that they have thrived (20-30 ft) here to begin with...
view the full question and answer

An evergreen, deer-resistant shrub for Memphis
July 24, 2013 - I need an evergreen, deep to partial shade, deer resistant shrub or tree. Does such a plant exist?
view the full question and answer

Incorrectly planted anacua from San Antonio
November 22, 2013 - I purchased a 12' anacua tree from a local nursery about 18 months ago. It was not planted correctly (root bound, rolled into a hole about 3" larger than the pot) but is still alive with the number...
view the full question and answer

Plants for heavy clay in Sonoma County, California
July 10, 2013 - Hi, I live in Northern California, Sonoma County, and would like to transition my front garden into mostly native plants. Trouble is, my soil is clay, yicky, heavy clay, and some of the natives I've ...
view the full question and answer

Bark flaking off oaks in New Braunfels, TX
April 12, 2010 - We have several large clusters of oak trees. Some of the trees are losing their bark. The bark is flaking off in fairly large pieces; even on some of the trees that are leafing out. Is this a result o...
view the full question and answer

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