When do live oaks drop leaves here?

SteveMay 9, 2014

In extreme S Oklahoma S of Durant a few miles from Texas, my live oak (8' tall) sprouted some leaves many weeks ago, but, looked today, and, it has maybe 1% coverage. Having not lived here for long, I have no idea what to expect as far as when the usual cycle of leaf drop may occur here. I am thinking it may have been earlier, but, not sure. The leaves it does have look fine and appear basically full grown, having owned live oaks before elsewhere. But they are few and far between, so, yes, I know live oaks do drop leaves, but, I do not know around when here.

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I'm in OKC and have a large live oak (25 ft) in my backyard and I believe it's already dropped its leaves. It's a little hard to tell as the new ones come on so quickly I don't really notice, but I looked up there yesterday and saw a few brown leaves and lots of new looking ones. Our big rain last week also flushed a huge amount of dead leaves down from the hill that the tree is on, so I think it's about done. I would guess yours would be slightly ahead of me since you are further south.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:13PM
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Yep, so, last I looked, only saw a few leaves on the lowest branches, and, one here and there on higher branches, all looked new. I would expect it to be much further along, unless the wind got it. Didn't see any obvious pest. But maybe it moved on if it ate the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:33PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I'm in Love County, in the part of the county that sticks down into Texas so I have Texas to my east, west and south, and the timing of when the live oaks drop leaves here varies (presumably with the weather). I've seen it happen as early as March and as late as very late April or earliest May. We don't have any live oaks on our property but our native post oaks also hold their leaves most of the winter and only drop them as the new leaves emerge. Generally they are doing this around the same time or a little later than the dropping of the live oak leaves. This year that happened here in early April.

We have had such erratic weather with late cold nights this spring, including 32 degrees recorded at our OK Mesonet station on May 1st, that your new live oak leaves might have been damaged by a late cold spell just as they were emerging. Y'all probably didn't drop down to 32 like our station at Burneyville did, but might have been almost as cold.

I've never seen pests bother live oaks here, so I'd suspect it is the see-sawing of the temperatures, not to mention the drought and the strong winds combined with high temperatures. This spring the weather has been flakier than usual.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 1:12PM
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Thanks Dawn. Wow, 32 on May 1? 43 at night here on that date. I guess I will just wait it out if there are no pests that might be involved, I do not see any. I guess it has some leaves, so, it's clearly alive. Just seems awfully late to me!

I did lose a new Arizona Cypress planted last fall, and, a few that were severely set back (they were only 2' tall). But everything else seems to be ok.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The Burneyville mesonet station often gets 3 to 6 (and occasionally as much as 10) degrees lower than our place does in winter and especially in late spring, and that's really something because our place is in a low-lying creek-hollow in the already low-lying (as you know) Red River Valley. On May 1st, I think we only went to 35 or 36 at our house, but I had all the warm-season crops covered with a frost blanket type floating row cover that gives at least 10 degrees of protection, so I was ready for anything down to 22 degrees. Living in a cold microclimate keeps you on your toes and makes you prepare for the worst when a late cold night is expected.

I believe it was in 2008 that our forecast low on a night early in May was 50 degrees so, naturally, I didn't cover up anything. I went outside the next morning to 32 degrees and tomato plants that had been 3' tall and covered with fruit were frozen to the ground, as were pepper plants and even potato plants. I learned a lesson that year, and now I am careful to cover up my plants on any night I think will drop down below about 40 degrees (which wouldn't have helped on that night that we went 18 degrees lower than forecast). Most of the plants resprouted from the roots, and there were 5 or 6 tomato plants (planted on the highest point of land in the garden, right next to the gravel driveway) that only suffered freeze damage but didn't die. I think that being close to the driveway helped them stay warm from some of the heat it absorbed during the daytime. Anyhow, that's an example of how tricky the weather can be here along the Red River, so take all your forecast lows with a grain of salt the first few years until you learn if your specific location tends to have temperatures that are more or less the same as your mesonet station's, or if you're in either a much warmer or much cooler microclimate.

We got colder than usual here this year at our house and I expect y'all did too over there near Durant. Some trees that normally are not damaged by the cold not only were damaged, but one is dead and one is clinging to life. Others lost flowers and leaves on one of the many late cold mornings. I almost never lose a tree here to heat or drought, but extraordinary cold gets one every now and then. Often it isn't the cold temperature itself, it is that it arrives either very early in fall when the weather has otherwise remained warm so the trees haven't had a chance to adapt to increasingly colder weather or it happens in spring after everything has warmed up and leafed out and lost its cold tolerance.

Hopefully your live oak only lost leaves to a late cold spell and will put out new ones.

When we first moved here from Texas, I kept trying to trick Mother Nature and grow some zone 8 plants that I loved. I could get away with it for a year or 2 or 3, but eventually Mother Nature wins and the zone 8 plant dies, so I've stopped trying to do that now.

I had damage this spring on Mexican plum (native to our property and this one looks entirely dead), Mimosa (lots of freeze damage but regrowing now....and, yes, I know it is a trash tree but I grow it for the hummingbirds who love it), my 'Jane' magnolia, which has struggled since the tremendous drought of 2011 and just may not make it, and Chinaberry, another trash tree I loved in Texas and planted here for the hummingbirds and butterflies. I also may have lost an in-ground Brown Turkey fig that froze back to the ground but isn't putting out any new growth yet. It should have shown regrowth by now. The Brown Turkey fig in a large container (a black molasses cattle feed tub) spent part of the winter in the greenhouse and part of it outdoors and is fine and fully leafed out. This was a really hard winter for trees here.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 3:40PM
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I love Mexican Plum, used to grow one in Melissa TX north of McKinney.

My new experimental plant is Fantasy crape myrtle. It is supposed to grow to 50' being of the Japanese variety. But, it has not a single leaf yet. However, scratching the bark shows it is quite green underneath, so, still hoping. I am told by the grower that they leaf later than other Crape Myrtles.

I planted a Lacebark Elm, and, sort of sorry I did, seems awfully weak (trunk)!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 3:48PM
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