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To prune or not to prune...

Posted by bmuegel Texas (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 18, 13 at 21:30

Hello----

We have a tree that is slowly coming back to life again. Due to the drought we are having here in Austin TX., the tree dried up and looked like it may have died.
I have been watering it more now a days to see if it would come back to life and I now see new green leaves growing on it again. I attached pic of our tree to help understand it's current status.

My questions:
1) What kind of tree is this? Can you tell from our pic?
2) Do we need to help the tree out by pruning it? Or just leave it alone?

Cheers-
Bernie Muegel


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: To prune or not to prune...

I think you need to take a pic of the leaves close up. I am guessing Live oak or Willow oak, but can't make out the leaves, they look kinda small and oblong, but I am guessing. The watering in Texas thing is not something I can relate too, other than water a good bit about once or twice a week, not a little every day. Texans can add or whatever.......


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Sorry, The main question of pruning, which I didn't answer. I've heard that oak wilt (if you have an oak) isn't spread easily in fall, so any pruning is okay in fall. The bugs that spread it aren't active now. Root systems can spread it but I think a Red oak family oak has to spread it to other oaks. Someone pipe in if I recall wrong. I have pruned my oaks this month, and I don't see why you shouldn't. Someone may have another view on this, but I would thin out some branches back to the branch collar, make sure it has one leader as long as you can reach it. Thinning should help newly planted trees, if you get lots of wind, which I think Texas gets lots of.


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

It looks almost dead from the picture. I can hardly identify what it is. Post a pic of a healthy leaf instead.

Continue watering the tree and observe if more green leaves will come out. If not, I think pruning it a little bit is good. Read the pruning tips below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning techniques to maximize growth


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Do not prune right now. Wait to see which branches start to sprout and which do not. There will always be time to prune a known dead branch. There is no hurry.

Do you know if it is an oak, as has been mentioned by previous posts? A close up of a leaf is what's needed to identify on a forum such as this.

Do not over water. Give a good deep watering i.e. the water needs to soak through the roots, then let it rest for a while. How long depends on your soil and the weather conditions. Sandy soil will need water sooner than clay soil. Warm conditions need more water than cool conditions. You want to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Think of a nice cake and you have the proper idea for soil moisture.


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

NO No no to pruning now. Doing so would severely limit your tree's ability to recover.

Pruning is an act that stimulates growth. Your tree is already in 'emergency mode ' and should be allowed to recover at its own pace. Any new leaves produced at this time are done so at the ultimate sacrifice of the stored carbon reserves within the root system.

Pruning should not be done at this time of year in your climate, period. The fact that your tree is in recovery mode makes it especially important that you do not prune.

The new foliage is an emergency source of photosynthates that will be metabolized into stored energy vital for the plant. Pruning will cause the tree to put out new stems.....disallowing the plant to do what it needs to do in order to survive.

Do not over water...do not fertilize.....do not prune.


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Thank you all for the responses and advice. Here is a pic of the new leaves growing off our tree....


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

I think it looks like a Nyssa sylvatica, aka Black Gum or Tupelo Tree. They have a pretty funky branching behavior like in your photo, plus the foliage and bark look like it. If your remaining foliage turns an incredible shade of red as fall progresses, you will know for sure. Black gums are treasured for their fall foliage.

Whatever you do, DO NOT do any pruning now. Trees going into dormancy don't need that kid of signal that tells them to generate new growth.

We have four of them. We nearly had the nursery replace one that lost most of its lower branches the year it was planted, but we held on, babied it, and it is now beautiful, just two years later. I was surprised to see so many lower branches regenerate, and the tree now has a nice form again. So although I think your tree looks like it's on life support, if it IS a nyssa sylvatica, you might want to keep caring for it and wait to see if it comes back in the spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nyssa sylvatica at UCONN


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

I think it looks like a Nyssa sylvatica, aka Black Gum or Tupelo Tree. They have a pretty funky branching behavior like in your photo, plus the foliage and bark look like it. If your remaining foliage turns an incredible shade of red as fall progresses, you will know for sure. Black gums are treasured for their fall foliage.

Whatever you do, DO NOT do any pruning now. Trees going into dormancy don't need that kid of signal that tells them to generate new growth.

We have four of them. We nearly had the nursery replace one that lost most of its lower branches the year it was planted, but we held on, babied it, and it is now beautiful, just two years later. I was surprised to see so many lower branches regenerate, and the tree now has a nice form again. So although I think your tree looks like it's on life support, if it IS a nyssa sylvatica, you might want to keep caring for it and wait to see if it comes back in the spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nyssa sylvatica at UCONN


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Not nyssa, likely a live oak or similar, MM =)

I bet that pic was posted while you were doing your write up


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Thanks, Jon! But that last pic is what made me think nyssa -- but I can see how it could be live oak. The tree looks mature enough to be producing acorns, so I'd be interested to know if they're present.


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

delete duplicate

This post was edited by MulchMama on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 15:21


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Wow... this is so helpful!!!! Thank you so much for all the advice. So far no acorns. :-)


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Wow... this is so helpful!!!! Thank you so much for all the advice. So far no acorns. :-)


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Definitely Live Oak. Some of my new neighbors have dead looking Live Oak from failure to water properly during hot and dry weather in Texas.

I'm going to provide a link on how to water properly. Focus on the part about trees grown in the smooth sided containers. I'm assuming it was recently planted. It probably will take another year or two to baby it before it is fully established due to its size. The key is to keep the rootball moist, not sopping wet.

Here is a link that might be useful: watering practice


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

that staking job makes me think this was a large transplant ...

care to provide any history of the tree... prior to it browning??/

ken


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Wow... this is so helpful!!!! Thank you so much for all the advice. So far no acorns. :-)


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

To Lou....

Thank you for the link on how to water this type of tree....

To Ken....

We rent this house and was told it was planted just this past January.Thus, we have no prior knowledge of its history before our time renting this house this past June.


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

Thanks for that Whitcomb link, Lou. Interesting, his thoughts on fertilizer at transplant.

+oM


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

as i suspected.. a very large transplant.. that was not watered properly ...

it is starving for water ...

put the hose on drip.. and let it run for a few hours to water the entire root mass that was planted...

the only caveat.. what is your base soil ... dig a hole elsewhere in the yard and find out... clay or sand... or something perfect in between???.... fill hole with water.. and time how long it takes to drain away ...

also.. with a hand trowel... dig down into the root mass planted .. near the tree.. and find out how moist it is at 3 to 6 inches...

the lush grass makes me suspect.. you have been watering the grass sufficiently.. but not the tree... its roots are a foot or two below the grass... which involves the deep watering i spoke of ...

the tree has a survival instinct.. it is rebudding.. but what it ends up looking like... is left to fate ...

we will be here for pruning advice.. in a year or two.. should you still be in this house...

ken


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RE: To prune or not to prune...

I am finally right on a tree ID! Yahoo! but really when do you think is the best time to prune an oak? When the beatles that spread it are active? Spring? Summer?


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