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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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Saturday - October 05, 2013

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Soils, Trees
Title: Brown leaves on Burr Oak from Dripping Springs TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have recently planted a 15 gal. burr oak in an correct hole with great soil and plenty of watering in. We have noticed some brown leaves. Should we be worried?

ANSWER:

How recently? If you planted it in hot weather, which in Central Texas is just about any time except November to January, the trees may be suffering from transplant shock. Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak), while native to Texas, grows more commonly in areas north of Texas and likes acidic soils, which you are not likely to have in Central Texas. However, we have seen some beautiful specimens of this tree growing right here in Austin, so we know it is viable here. We also would like to mention the "great soil" you planted your tree in. Was this with ample compost added to the soil to facilitate drainage? A lot of soils in Central Texas, in addition to being alkaline, are also clays which, without amending for better drainage, can trap water around the roots and cause problems. We can't answer the question as to whether you should be worried; only tell you what the causes of browning leaves might be. Since it has been so dry and hot here, that alone could have been the cause. We recommend you watch and wait, and begin to worry if the tree does not leaf out again next Spring.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

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