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?


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 - August 19, 2013

From: Lakeway, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Stressed live oaks from Lakeway TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have some Live Oaks who appear to be stressed (Ball Moss is becoming very prevalent on some of them) during the drought in Central TX. How often and how long should I water them? Thank you very much for your help.


We know that you didn't infer that the Tillandsia recurvata (Small ball moss) was causing the decline of your oak, as many people think, but we would like for you to read this Floridata article just to reassure you that it is not a parasite, drinking tree blood and killing your tree.

You probably already know what a problem Oak Wilt is in Travis County but it is not the only thing that can go wrong, especially in our hot, droughty weather. Here is a previous answer detailing some of those things, with links to more information.

That previous answer also adds some suggestions on watering, to which we would only add that you can use a hose and lawn sprinkler out on the dripline area, but depending on a sprinkler system to help a tree is not sufficient.


From the Image Gallery

Small ball moss
Tillandsia recurvata

Small ball moss
Tillandsia recurvata

Small ball moss
Tillandsia recurvata

More Trees Questions

Reason for tree canopy dieback from Mahopac NY
May 21, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Not a questions, just sharing, re person in Texas whose Ash Jupiter appeared to be dying "canopy very thin on top". We moved to Putnam Co. NY in 1970. Our house was shaded by...
view the full question and answer

Double trunks on bur oaks in Houston
March 15, 2010 - I am involved in a garden club propagation project. One of the trees we have had success propagating is the Bur Oak. Two of these baby Bur Oaks have multi trunks..one has two and the other has three....
view the full question and answer

Yellow, pale green leaves on Cedar Elms in Texas
August 30, 2008 - I have had several cedar elms of various sizes planted in our yard over the last 10 years. Only the largest has dark green, healthy looking leaves. All the others have yellowish, pale green leaves. Th...
view the full question and answer

Need recommendations for privacy screen in Richmond, VA
February 27, 2013 - Hello, I read through the previous posts on privacy screen plantings in the Mid Atlantic region. There was a lot of great information, but I has a specific question that was not answered. I would li...
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center