En Español

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?


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

Tuesday - May 08, 2012

From: Nevada, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: A year and a half old live oak tree is doing poorly in Nevada, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


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 on the branches. Should we just be patient?


There are two species of oak in Texas that are known as live oak; one is Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak) and the other is Quercus virginiana (Coastal live oak). Neither one prefers the black land prairie soils of Collin County.   (see qufu  and quvi).

Whenever we hear of a recently planted tree that is doing poorly, our thoughts turn to transplant shock. I’m going to refer you to three sites that discuss this problem and offer suggestions for remedies.

Purdue University



Are you sure that the branches are alive? The “thumb nail test” can tell you. Scrape a small section of bark off of the end of a branch with your thumb nail. If there is green tissue underneath, the branch is alive. No green tissue, that part of the branch is dead. Move down the branch, repeating the test as you go until you find green tissue. Remove the dead part of the branch.


From the Image Gallery

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow from Hazlet NJ
July 03, 2013 - Leaves turning yellow on weeping willow planted in May. What causes this and how can I fix it? Mother's Day gift after SANDY uprooted huge tree.
view the full question and answer

Film growing on prickly pear from Austin
September 28, 2012 - We've just xeriscaped our front & back yards. Two of the spineless prickly pear cacti have a beige film growing on the paddles. The film is now moving further up the cactus, and one of the upper pad...
view the full question and answer

Why are large numbers of leaves falling from my Live Oak trees in Driftwood, TX?
June 24, 2015 - Today is June 6, 2015 and I have noticed that for the last week and a half, only a few live oaks out of many, have been losing large numbers of green leaves and turning brown on the ground. I cannot ...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center