En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 08, 2013

From: Cypress, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Watering, Trees
Title: Leaf drop from live oaks in mid-summer
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We have a live oak that is starting to drop a considerable amount of leaves here in early July in Cypress Texas. Its a mature tree with a base diameter of 12-14" and 25-30' tall. We live in a subdivided neighbor hood and there is a tree its same size less then 10' away (from base to base) and it is not dropping any leaves. The leaves that are dropping appear to be evenly located throughout the tree. Less than 5% of the trees leaves are dropping although its still seems like a considerable amount on the ground considering its July. Do you believe the tree is in distress? We have a sprinkler system but because of the lack of rain the past few years do you believe it may be a result of a drought condition? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

The fact that only one of your oak trees is dropping leaves may mean that the soil around it has been compacted by heavy foot traffic or that soil structure around it is simply different from that under the other tree.  If the tree is on a slope water retention may not be adequate.

I believe you will be able to find some indications of what is causing the leaf drop in an article from Texas A&M.  The article describes symptoms of oak wilt and of other less serious diseases of live oak.  These can often be diagnosed by examining the fallen leaves. A pdf copy of one of the accounts can be downloaded here.  These bacterial and fungal diseases are most commonly seen in seasons of good or heavy rainfall rather than drought.

If the leaves do not show indications of disease, I would recommend that you pay attention to the ground area surrounding the tree in question.   If the soil dries three to four inches deep, it’s time to water.   A sprinkler system generally does not provide enough water for trees.  Give the tree regular deep watering by leaving a garden hose trickling on two or three areas near the drip line for several hours.  This method is better than watering near the tree's base.

If it appears that you may have an oak wilt infection you should contact the Texas A&M office noted in the above web site right away.  Other types of leaf disease are usually not particularly serious and may not harm the tree.  New leaves will not form until next spring.

 

More Trees Questions

Thuja arborvitae not thriving in Austin
November 04, 2010 - I planted 5 giant thuja arborvitae two years ago. They have grown six inches and aren't doing that well. I live in Austin Texas and it was a hot summer. I water them 2x a week, now 1x a week. They a...
view the full question and answer

Trees for traffic buffer in Portland OR
September 20, 2010 - Hi, saw the question about small space plants. On this topic, our street in Portland OR is looking for a fast growing, 20-30 ft tree that can go in a 12" wide parking strip along our road (we have ma...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for maple tree lost in Hurricane Sandy from Hauppauge NY
March 17, 2013 - Lost a Maple street tree in Hurricane Sandy, was forty-eight years old. Town will not replace the tree. Must do it on my own. What would you suggest? Nothing that grows too tall.
view the full question and answer

Sycamore leaf snowbell from Pleasanton TX
August 18, 2012 - How do you care for a sycamore leaf snowbell. Does it like sun or part shade? How much water? How often and what should it be fed. How fast or slowly does it grow? Anything you can tell me would be ap...
view the full question and answer

Healthy black walnut trees from volunteer saplings
May 07, 2008 - We just purchased a piece of property in the Texas Hill Country. There is a stump of a large black walnut tree that has four healthy looking samplings shooting up. Each is about 10 feet high. The o...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center