Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

American Beech with Brown Leaves
August 06, 2015 - I have a North American beech tree in Oregon. Its leaves started out with big brown spots on the leaves and is pretty much turning all the leaves on the tree brown. What could be causing this and wha...
view the full question and answer

Need to identify white powdery substance on Wisteria in Georgetown, TX.
May 11, 2011 - My wisteria shrub has a white powdery substance over the wood base. I have tried spraying a fungicide on it but have seen no improvement. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
February 04, 2010 - When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.
view the full question and answer

Potted Plumbago, struggling with the heat, in Spring Texas
June 29, 2011 - Why do some of the leaves of my plumbagos that are grown in large, well-draining planters turn brown? The brown starts on the tips, then extends to the whole leaf. They get several hours of west aft...
view the full question and answer

Trees and shrubs turning brown in Dripping Springs TX
October 31, 2011 - Due to the extended drought - a number of trees and shrubs in our Dripping Springs area property have turned brown. Specifically: Live Oak; Agarita; Ash Juniper; Cedar Elm. Is this a dormant stag...
view the full question and answer

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