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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - October 23, 2012

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Trees
Title: Feeding live oak and redbud trees from Fredericksburg TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you please tell me what to feed my live oak and texas redbud trees that survived the drought? We have granite soil.

ANSWER:

Generally speaking, a plant native to an area should not need supplemental feeding, as it is already accustomed to the nutrients in the soil, the climate and the rainfall. There are practices, like composting and mulching your trees that help those trees access the nutrients in the soil, protect the roots from heat and cold and decompose to continue to amend the soil, naturally and without having to use chemicals. Read this How-To Article on Under Cover with Mulch.

Although it's a little too late for this now, how you plant your tree in the beginning has a lot to do with what kind of care it needs later. Plants native to Central Texas will almost always need good drainage. Mixing compost with the dirt that goes back into the hole when your tree is being placed will help keep water from standing on those roots. which few plants from around here can tolerate. And never, ever fertilize a newly-planted tree; this will force a tree struggling to survive to try to grow more leaves. It also will retard blooming, which you probably care about with your redbud.

Please follow these two plants links to our webpages on each plant: Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) and Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak). This will give you more information about the culture and care of these trees, including propagation, bloom time, etc.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

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