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

Tuesday - August 16, 2011

From: Brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Watering, Trees
Title: Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering over days help this situation due to the drought?

ANSWER:

This year, everything is turning brown, some in places like your oak tree, and some all over, indicating a very dead plant. There are all kinds of diseases and pests of trees or, more specifically, of the oak that could be causing this. Here is a paper from Forest Health Protection, Southern Region on Oak Pests. Since we are neither entomologists nor plant pathologists we cannot diagnose the specific problem, especially without seeing it.

But, because of the extreme weather in Central Texas, we are betting on the heat and drought being the source of the problem. Before you even try to find out if insects or disease are causing the browning, we would definitely recommend watering more. Remember how far out from the trunk those roots are growing-at least as far out as the drip or shade line, and usually two to three times that. Drip watering of a tree is really only effective when the tree is very small and newly planted. In that situation, we suggest you push a hose down in the soil and let the water drip slowly until water rises to the surface, at least twice a week during hot, dry weather. For a large mature tree, you need to get water farther out and you probably couldn't get a hose in the ground for drip watering there. Use the sprinkler, moving it around to water each area where roots probably are, and leave it in each position long enough to really wet the soil. Again, twice a week.

The leaves that are brown will not turn green again, it will soon be time for the oak to drop leaves anyway. But if you start providing water to the little rootlets all up and down the length of the main roots, the tree will have the energy to put new leaves on in the Spring season.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with non-native Japanese privet from Glendale AZ
December 26, 2012 - We have Japanese privet shrub and they seem to be suffering from a disease, need help.
view the full question and answer

Treating cuts in tree trunks
November 21, 2009 - We have two young trees that deer made bad cuts in the trunks. What can we put on cuts to keep bugs and disease from getting in them.? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling off recently transplanted mature Mountain Laurel
July 05, 2006 - I have recently purchased a Mountain Laurel for my backyard landscaping. It is a fully matured ML standing over 9 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Since it was planted (about 6 weeks ago) it has been losin...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Ash drooping?
June 22, 2009 - Last spring, I bought a house in Austin, TX with a large Ash tree in the front yard. It looked fine last year, but has been looking funny since it leafed out this spring. It's as if the leaves are we...
view the full question and answer

Fronds turning brown on yucca in Leander, TX
April 13, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live Northwest of Austin in Leander and have grown a spanish dagger yucca for several years. It is 8 feet tall and each spring it puts up a showy spike of blooms. The old fr...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center