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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - August 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Live oak sprouts in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I control the hundreds of live oak sprouts our lovely trees are throwing off? We recently landscaped with rain gardens and the related drainage ditches; they are filled with these very happy sprouts.

ANSWER:

The sprouts coming up could either be suckers off the roots of your existing live oaks, or seedlings from a very good crop of acorns. Either way, they need to be physically removed, by pulling them out. If the terrain permits, you could try mowing very low. If you deny the roots of acorn seedlings the ability to produce leaves long enough, the roots (and the seedling) will starve.

Suckers from the roots are another thing altogether. One of the big problems with live oaks in Central Texas is Oak Wilt. One of the ways live oaks grow is in mottes, or clusters, caused by uncontrolled suckering off the parent tree(s). As these clusters develop, their roots are intertwined; an introduction of the fungus causing Oak Wilt then becomes widespread as it travels through all those roots. Any herbicide you use can easily affect the parent tree, which you certainly don't want to do.

If what you have is mostly seedlings, raking up and removing the acorns in the Fall is the first, best thing to do to prevent more. The next is to be vigilant and pull up any sprout you see-it may be a sucker, it may be a seedling, but either way, pulling out and not permitting it to develop leaves will help eliminate the problem. We realize you probably would like us to recommend a spray you can purchase at the local nursery that will disable the sprouts and harm nothing else. We would love to do that, too, but there isn't one. 

 

More Trees Questions

Mid-sized tree that does not attract moths for Katy, TX
December 25, 2010 - I recently started to get interested in gardening. I live in Katy Texas and am looking for a medium sized tree I can grow in my backyard. I don't mind a tree that attracts birds or butterflies but I...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizing oaks to produce acorns
January 16, 2012 - Will fertilizing oak trees help with acorn production?
view the full question and answer

Changing colors on Mexican Plum trees from Bellaire TX
June 20, 2013 - The leaves on my Mexican Plum tree have recently started turning yellow/brown and the veins in leaves are red. Is this a watering issue or disease issue? Mites are on the leaves. This has been a ra...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of Bauhinia lunarioides
May 29, 2008 - I have a Bauhinia variegata..when is the best time to prune it? it tends to grow horizontally..where do you clip off the limbs?
view the full question and answer

Possible woodpecker damage in Monterrey Oaks
November 17, 2006 - I live in NW Austin and have two Monterey Oak trees, each about 30 - 45 gal in size. They both were planted approximately 9 months ago. Both trees seem to have some cracking bark on the trunk along w...
view the full question and answer

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