Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 26, 2010

From: Albany, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Failure to bud out of nuttall oak in Albany GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted a nutall oak in the fall of 09. It seemed to fare well during the winter. It is now spring and all of our other trees are budding out. The limbs are flexible. Not breaking off easily like the tree is alive. Yet not budding out. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

First, let's establish the Latin name for your oak. This once was Quercus nuttalli, but we discovered that is a no-longer used synonym for Quercus texana (Texas red oak). Ever so often, botanists in their infinite wisdom decide to change the names of lots of plants. Some retailers are obviously still using the name "Nuttall,' which was named "nuttalli"  in 1927 for Thomas Nuttall, a British-American botanist. So, we'll call the Nuttall oak, Quercus Texana. In spite of its new name, this USDA Plant Profile shows that it does grow in or near Dougherty County in southwest Georgia. Having established that it does belong where it is growing, we will need to look for some other reason for your tree not budding out, yet.

You didn't say what size your tree was when it was planted. Sometimes a newly planted tree will have a certain amount of transplant shock. It is working very hard to get its roots established to get nutrients and water up to the part of the tree which should be budding out. Also, southern Georgia, with most of the rest of the country, had a pretty severe winter, with surprise freezes. Again, for a newly planted tree, this could be retarding its development. Do the thumbnail test, scratching a very thin bit of the outer skin off, beginning at the top and working down. At some point, you should find a thin layer of green beneath that outer skin; if you do not, going clear down to where it emerges from the soil, the tree is probably dead. 

What do we suggest? Patience; if is still alive it will get its leaves out soon, they are needed to manufacture food through photosynthesis for the whole tree. Do not fertilize!  Native plants ordinarily don't need any fertilizer at all, and certainly don't need it shocking the roots and trying to encourage bloom from a tree still trying to keep its roots alive.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Quercus texana

Quercus texana

Quercus texana

Quercus texana

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Possible fungus growing on mountain ash (Sorbus sp. or Fraxinus sp.)
January 20, 2008 - We have a mountain ash with something growing several feet off the ground that looks like duckbills or mushrooms. Can you tell me what is wrong with it. We lost one mountain ash tree to something an...
view the full question and answer

Cupressaceae dying in Suffolk Co.NY
October 20, 2012 - I have noticed that all of my Cupressaceae (& others I see in my area) are dying. They turn yellow, then rust & brown til they are everbrowns. what is going on?
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees dropping leaves in clumps
December 08, 2009 - We have several large mature Live Oak trees in our Austin TX neighborhood. Now that the rains have come back and the acorns are falling, two of our four trees are also dropping large amounts of leave...
view the full question and answer

Small to medium drought-tolerant trees for Southern California
June 01, 2012 - I am looking for drought tolerant trees to line one side of our 70 foot driveway. We live in Southern California. Currently, we have queen palms, but I would like something more native or drought to...
view the full question and answer

What is the best time of year to transplant a young pecan tree?
May 29, 2009 - What is the best time of year to transplant a young pecan tree?
view the full question and answer

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