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

Thursday - February 17, 2011

From: Stevens Point, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the branches?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is not sure which earlier question you are referring to, but I suspect it may be this one that discussed pruning oak trees in central Texas. There are some important differences between Texas and Wisconsin besides the way we talk.

February in Central Texas is often more like spring than like winter. In fact, as I write this, on February 17, it is 74 degrees here in Austin. So, the insects that spread oak wilt get active earlier around here than where you live.

Here is a link to a USDA Forest Service site that discusses prevention of oak wilt in Wisconsin. This is a portion of their advice:

Do not prune or wound oaks during their entire growing season. The growing season begins when the buds swell in early spring and ends in fall when frosts and freeze-up occurs. The beginning and end dates of the growing season vary each year, depending on weather conditions in different areas of the state. Please be aware that avoiding pruning and wounding of oak trees during the entire growing season is a more cautious approach than is recommended in most publications. If an oak tree must be pruned or is wounded during the growing season, immediately cover the wound with a tree wound paint.

Mr. Smarty Plants would add to this that, whenever you cut a limb that is bigger than your thumb, you should always paint the wound and you should always disinfect your tools prior to cutting with a 10% bleach solution. Do this before you begin and again between each tree.

 

More Trees Questions

Trimming oaks and elms from New Braunfels TX
June 20, 2012 - I would like to trim my live oaks and elm trees at the same time, if possible. I think they are American Elms. When is the best time to do this and avoid oak wilt and Dutch elm disease? Should all c...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted Chinquapin Oak with browning leaves in Marlin, TX.
July 31, 2012 - We planted a Chinquapin Oak this in March 2012. As of July 21, 2012, the tips of the leaves on the lower branches are turning brown. We cannot see any insects. There does not appear to be any fungu...
view the full question and answer

Need to replace a Silver Maple in Illinois.
July 10, 2011 - My father recently had a tornado take out a 50 year old silver maple. He is looking to replace it, but he is looking for something with interesting summer color; as he put it not "green." I am try...
view the full question and answer

Fruit trees for Buckeye AZ
May 16, 2010 - I am moving to Buckeye Az from Utah and would like to know what type of fruit trees I can grow. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree for an enclosed courtyard in Las Cruces, NM
September 24, 2012 - I HAVE A WEST FACING COURTYARD ENCLOSED WITH A 6' STUCCO WALL AND I WANT TO ADD A SHADE TREE. CURRENTLY HAVE SEVERAL MESQUITE TREES, DESERT WILLOW, CHINESE PISTACHE & VITEX TREES IN THE FRONT AREA ...
view the full question and answer

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