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

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

Problems with transplanted Texas Madrones from Junction TX
May 13, 2014 - We planted 3 little Texas madrones last year 9 - 12 inches high. 2 of them seem to have some kind of black blight along the edges of the leaves that I don't think was the result of our late freezes. ...
view the full question and answer

A year and a half old live oak tree is doing poorly in Nevada, TX.
May 08, 2012 - We planted a live oak tree about a year and a half ago. the tree is still rather small. The leaves are of a vibrant green, however the leave have only grown through the center of the tree and not out...
view the full question and answer

Palm plant with lower inches browning in Alexandria VA
July 21, 2009 - Palm plant 10 years old, about 5' tall, single trunk approximately 1" diameter, reddish green leaves about 12 to 14 inches long, original owner. All leaves on the lower 2 inches of plant leaves are ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of non-native Althea in Oklahoma
August 17, 2008 - I have 2 Althea bushes that will not bloom. For the past 2 years, they become covered in buds, which eventually yellow, but never open. The buds are fully developed. This year the branches have starte...
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