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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wednesday - July 11, 2012

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Planting, Watering, Trees
Title: Care of Live Oaks
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have Two Young Live Oaks in the front of Our home. We had them treated for insects, ect. Now what can we do to make them Full Green and Happy Happy Happy again.Thank You

ANSWER:

We hope these Live Oaks were planted in cool weather. We ordinarily recommend that woody plants be planted between November and February in Texas. In fact, any planting or pruning of Live Oaks should be done in the coldest part of the year, when the Nitidulid beetle is inactive. This little beastie visits trees already infected with Oak Wilt for a sap snack, and then moves on to other oaks that have some damage on them that is producing sap. This is usually the result of a wound of some kind to the tree, caused by bumping with a lawnmower or a weedeater or damage during construction. We would suggest you go to this Texas Oak Wilt website for more complete information.

We also hope that the hole was properly prepared, a hole larger than the circumference of the root ball, with compost or other organic matter mixed into the native soil to enable good drainage and permit the little new rootlets to get out into the soil for nutrients and moisture.

You really don't need to fertilize native plants, or only infrequently. A plant native to an area is already accustomed to the soil, rainfall and climate of that area.

We are not sure if your oaks are in poor condition, since you said you wanted to make them happy "again." If the leaves are browning and perhaps even falling off, it might indicate the tree has transplant shock, often the result of planting at the wrong time of year. For this, you need patience as you can hardly go back and unplant the tree. To water, especially in the very hot weather we are experiencing right now, push your hose deep into the (hopefully) soft soil around the roots and let it slowly drip until water comes to the surface. Unless you are getting frequent rains, do this twice a week. We don't recommend watering trees by the use of sprinkler systems.

The best way to treat problems with plants, especially live oaks, is to prevent the conditions that produce the problems. Damage to tree bark, planting a tree that is rootbound, or at the wrong time of year can all cause problems even years down the road.

 

 

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