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?

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

Thursday - May 30, 2013

From: Matagorda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Planting, Trees
Title: Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.

ANSWER:

As you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, Quercus laurifolia (Laurel oak) (also known as "water oak") is not recorded as growing natively in Matagorda County but does in nearby Victoria and Harris Counties. So, since it should be able to grow where you are, it is puzzling that it is losing its leaves. You planted it in the cooler part of the year, which we always recommend for woody plants, especially in Texas. Here are the growing conditions for this plant from our webpage on it in our Native Plant Database.

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: This species is closely related to Q. nigra and Q. phellos. It has no pest problems and is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions."

When we followed this plant link, Quercus laurifolia (Laurel oak), to our webpage on this plant, we found this statement:

"GROWTH FORM: semi-evergreen with leaves retained until the following spring."

You said the tree had no leaves on it when it was planted. According to the webpage and the timing of the planting, your tree should have still had some leaves on it when it was planted. Then, it put on leaves, which are now browning and possibly dying. The only reason we can think of for this strange behavior is transplant shock. Here is an article from Northscaping.com on Ten Tips to Avoid Transplant Shock.

We inferred from your statement that you had them planted that landscapers took care of installing your trees. We suggest you discuss this development with them and ask them to examine  the trees to see if they can suggest what went wrong.

Pictures from Google.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Live oak leaves not dropping from Austin
April 29, 2014 - We had a 65 gallon live oak planted last October. We watered it regularly and it was green all through the winter. In March the leaves started to turn brown but never dropped, as they should have. ...
view the full question and answer

Should I top my scraggly magnolia tree? No
January 27, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, I live in Crockett,Tx. My husband and I just bought this house. In the front yard I have a very tall,scraggly magnolia tree due to trees growing up around it. We have cut some of tho...
view the full question and answer

Source for Hickory in Texas
March 25, 2015 - I'm looking for a nursery in Texas that sells hickory trees. I've used your supplier links and gone through many, many websites of suppliers. However, the only nut tree anyone sells is pecan. I'...
view the full question and answer

Identification of spiky red berry in Connecticut
September 25, 2011 - I found an odd berry outside of my school, none of the science teachers know what it is though. It kind of looks like a spiked cherry. It has spikes on the outside, a pit on the insde, and has pinkish...
view the full question and answer

Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
June 03, 2013 - My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center