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

Saturday - September 10, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning live oak shoots from San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am new to TX and am curious about removing suckers/water sprouts from my Live Oaks. Everything I've read about pruning Live Oaks states that you must paint ALL cuts, so I assume that all means all. However in discussing the matter with locals, most say that you only need to paint cuts of a certain diameter. Am I really supposed to try to paint every one of those little cuts or do I just need to worry about painting larger cuts?

ANSWER:

We have heard more about this problem this year than we remember ever having before. We will refer you to some links to get more information, but here is a summary. The Live Oak is the most susceptible of the oaks to Oak Wilt, and that is why recommending the pruning paint on cuts is so pervasive. The most important thing to understand is that the Nitulidid beetle, who carries the spores of the Oak Wilt fungus on his body, is not active during the coldest weather. For that reason, we recommend pruning only during November 15 to January 15. Pruning or any kind of damage, like a ding from a weedeater or a lawnmower, will result in sap being released by the tree. The pesky beetle looooves oak sap, and is attracted to it, complete with spores.

On the subject of pruning paint, if your tree experiences a break from wind or other reasons, the stump should immediately be cleaned up, cut straight, and pruning paint applied. If the stub is no larger than your thumb, you can omit the paint.

Which brings us to the sprouts; unless you have ignored them for a long time, they are not going to be that big. Get down below the soil if you can, and whack 'em off. They will come back, persistence is the rule.

Now for some previous answers on this prolem:

From El Paso

Oak Wilt

Mowing oak sprouts

 

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Mountain Laurel slowly dying in San Antonio, TX
December 26, 2012 - My Texas Mountain Laurel seems to be dying in a slow unusual manner. Over the past two weeks the leaves have been turning yellow and falling off starting with the south facing side of my multi-tru...
view the full question and answer

Goldsturm Rudbeckia Stunted and Doesn't Bloom
April 16, 2015 - I have Goldsturm Rudbeckia that never flowers nor gets taller than 4 inches. Meanwhile, my phlox does fantastic in the same area. This area is sand top dressed with black dirt. Please help! Goldst...
view the full question and answer

Problems with blueberries from Kernersville NC
April 29, 2012 - My blueberry plants have no leaves or scrawny ones. I have 13 plants, 5 of them are like this.
view the full question and answer

Bignonia capreolata with brown leaves in Pennsylvania
April 24, 2009 - 3 year old crossvine leaves brown and dead looking. Will it come back and bud out? Crossvine on fence southern exposure. Crossvine on fence in another area has leaves and are dark green/purple - sa...
view the full question and answer

Disease-resistant squash varieties for Central Texas
February 03, 2008 - Can you give me names of some disease-resistant summer squash varieties available in Central Texas?
view the full question and answer

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