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
5 ratings

Monday - October 19, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: About Live Oak trees in Austin, Texas
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Hello, I planted a couple texas live oak two years ago in South Austin. They're about 5 feet tall. How long will it take for them to mature? Thanks

ANSWER:

The short answer to your question is that the Quercus virginiana (live oak) trees mature in about 50 years, more or less. They are actually one of the faster growing trees when in an ideal environment, growing about three feet a year when young.  As they get larger, the growth rate tapers off. What follows may be more than you want to know, but I just can't stop myself. Mr. Smarty Plants likes native Texas trees!

The happiest live oaks are planted in soil, sand, clay, or loam that is acid and kept well watered, especially when young. That said, the live oak is a relatively hardy tree and adapts readily to drought and alkaline soil though it may be harmed by freezing temperatures further north. Thought to be evergreen, Quercus virginiana (live oak) and its cousin, Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak) actually replace about half of their glossy, waxy leaves annually in early spring.

Many like to shape the young oaks through pruning. Oak wilt is endemic in central Texas and can be spread through injudicious pruning as the Nitiludid beetle invades the new cuts. Pruning must be done only in the coldest or hottest months in central Texas when the beetle is less active. Learn more about how to correctly prune at our Wildflower Center site and more about preventing oak wilt through the Texas Oak Wilt website

Texans love their live oaks with good reason. A popular shade tree in Central Texas, the live oak can grow to between 30-80 feet in height. It is often wider than it is high with wonderful sturdy branches that spread horizontally before reaching for the sky, perfect for climbing or maybe a tree house. (One needs to consider the space needed for the mature tree before planting!) Austin is well known for the 500-year old Treaty Oak, still hanging on after several assaults. It is located downtown on Baylor between 5th and 6th Streets.  An excellent history and a photo of Treaty Oak is on the Wikipedia website. A stunning live oak located behind the Hampton Branch of Austin Public Library in Oak Hill at 5125 Convict Hill Road was named Austin's Tree of the Year in 2007. An outdoor classroom created by local Rotarians is located under its broad branches.


Quercus fusiformis

Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana
 

Quercus virginiana

 

More Trees Questions

Native landscaping plants for Sherman, Texas
December 19, 2007 - We are starting from scratch on landscaping our new yard. We live in Sherman, TX and I would like to use plants and flowers that are native to Texas and have a good chance of surviving. What are you...
view the full question and answer

Want a source for Mexican redbud in Houston, TX
October 04, 2010 - I live in west Houston and would like to purchase and plant a Mexican redbud in my yard. I have Googled to find one and also searched the Growit site without success. Where can I find one in Texas? I ...
view the full question and answer

Cottonwood seed clogging air conditioner in Austin
June 06, 2010 - My husband and I recently moved into a rental house that has a very tall cottonwood tree in the backyard. It has been shedding its seeds all over our yard since the beginning of May and seems to still...
view the full question and answer

Oak saplings in Boerne TX
August 02, 2010 - Is there anything I can do to kill the oak tree saplings that come up around my oak tree? I have a nice raised flower bed around the tree and now it's full of these saplings. Thanks for your help...
view the full question and answer

Is Esperanza a deciduous or an evergreen plant?
March 08, 2009 - I've read that Esperanza/Tecoma Stans is an evergreen. I planted one last year that seemed very healthy, but it dropped its leaves in late fall and looks (at least) dormant now. Will it come back o...
view the full question and answer

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