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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 20, 2015

From: Albany, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Possible transplant shock in Red Oak in Albany, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We planted a new tree last spring which we were told was a Texas Red Oak. The soil where it was planted is hard clay. We have had a watering bag on it and have watered an average of 2x per week throughout the summer. All of the sudden the leaves turned a paler green and wilted and now they have all begun to fall off. There is no sign of insects and until the last few weeks it looked very healthy. We live in Albany Texas and have not had rain in the last 6 weeks. Is our tree dead? What should we do to care for it through the winter?

ANSWER:

To determine if your oak is still alive, you can do the “scratch test” (also know as the thumbnail test”). Select a branch and remove some of the bark with your thumbnail. You are looking for green tissue beneath the bark. If you find none at the first site, continue testing further down the stem. If you get to the bottom of the plant without finding any green tissue, the tree is probably dead.

It is hard to diagnose plant problems from afar, but one possibility could be transplant shock, even though the plant is over a year old.

I’m including links to three sites that explain transplant shock, and have suggestions for preventing it, and curing it.

northscaping.com #1

northscaping #2

gardeningknowhow.com

Another source of help closer to home is Shackelford County offices of Texas AgriLife Extension.

 

 

 

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