Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
2 ratings

Monday - July 23, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Control of live oak suckers by cutting
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do I control the Live Oak root suckers? At the moment we are cutting them as they come out of the ground.

ANSWER:

You did not specify, but since you are in Austin, Texas, I would guess that your tree is Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak), the live oak native in your area or Quercus virginiana (live oak), the closely related species often planted in your area. Live oaks are native from Texas across the warmer parts of the Southeast.

You are probably doing the best thing in just clipping those little suckers off at the ground. They're unattractive and as time goes by, you could have a whole grove of teeny tiny live oak trees, which is probably not what you had in mind. And that could be a problem, too. In a wild, untended situation, this clonal method of reproduction could result in a grove of trees commonly referred to as a motte, with interlocked roots. Oak wilt, one of the biggest attackers of the live oak, can be spread through that root system. Protect your existing live oak by not pruning during the Spring and Fall, when the beetles that spread the fungus causing oak wilt are active. And prevent developing an "oak wilt center" by getting rid of those little sprouts.


Quercus fusiformis

Quercus virginiana

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Rose canker in roses on cedar posts
May 24, 2007 - While visiting the wildflower Center I saw that some of the plants were growing on trellis' made of posts cut from cedar trees. I made a trellis for my climbing rose bush and where the stems touched...
view the full question and answer

Elaeagnus sudden death in Waxahachie, TX
May 11, 2015 - I live in North Central Texas and have eleagnus planted along my fence in full sun. Last year one dropped all it's leafs and died. The same is happening to one beside it this year. I have sprayed ...
view the full question and answer

Hybrid Leyland Cypress leaning in Annapolis MC
June 29, 2011 - We have a large, 9-year old Leyland Cypress that has tipped over. It is still green and growing but leaning slightly off center. It's about 20' tall. Should we stake it? If so, we'd like to do ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Eastern hemlock in Greenville SC
July 02, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a beautiful, young, 5 and a half foot tall Eastern Hemlock. I purchased and planted it two years ago in the fall. It has been doing very well all this spring. And ne...
view the full question and answer

Mosquito repellent plant?
September 01, 2008 - I would like to know if there is a plant that keeps mosquitoes away. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.