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 Watering Questions

Failure to thrive of Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin
May 02, 2010 - I have an adult (over 25 years?, 20 feet tall?) Mountain Laurel next to my house in Austin. The winter of 2009/10 it lost most of its leaves. It did bloom and leaf out this Spring--not vigorous espec...
view the full question and answer

Will Bermuda grass survive a drought-induced dormancy?
August 12, 2015 - If I stop watering a Bermuda grass lawn and let it go dormant, will it green up again when it rains again?
view the full question and answer

Limp leaves on Texas purple sage in Magnolia TX
July 22, 2010 - Recently planted Texas purple sage, some of it looks healthy and has new blooms, but a few of the plants have limp leaves and are thin at the bottom. I read the article on cotton root rot, but am not ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for sandy soil and not much water
April 14, 2008 - I am planning a new garden at home and would like to grow native plants that can handle sandy soil and don't need much water. I do not water my gardens.I would prefer plants that can have more than o...
view the full question and answer

Leaf drop from live oaks in mid-summer
July 08, 2013 - We have a live oak that is starting to drop a considerable amount of leaves here in early July in Cypress Texas. Its a mature tree with a base diameter of 12-14" and 25-30' tall. We live in a subd...
view the full question and answer

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