growing a Live Oak

uscva36June 3, 2005

Does anyone have any experience in growing a live oak, or know if it is possible to grow a live oak just west of Richmond, VA zone 7b?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

What are your reasons for wanting to grow a Live Oak? Are there others in your area? That is often the best indication of whether or not a tree species is appropriate for an area.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 11:52PM
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Well rhizo, they don't naturally grow in my area. I go to school at the University of South Carolina and I love seeing the magnificent live oak trees that grow on the Historic Horseshoe, as well as the moss draped live oaks in the Lowcountry. I was just trying to experiment on whether or not they would be able to grow this far north and this far inland, believing them to be a more of a coastal plant.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 1:29AM
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vernvan(7 Atlanta, GA)

They do grow inland, as they have plenty of them in Houston, Texas. I hope you realize that most of the trees that you are deeming magnificent are 200+ years old.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 10:37AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

That's exactly why I was trying to find the motive here! Those wonderful, romantic, moss draped Live Oaks! It takes several generations for one of these trees to begin putting on that trademark horizontal branching everyone loves to much. And a few more generations before anyone will remark on it's stateliness! And that's down there in Charleston!

It is THE single most inappropriatly used tree in SC, where it's still being planted in every commerical development, parking lot, sidewalk alee, etc. By the time it will ever be a shade producer, it would be far too large and cumbersome to stay on the site.

But to answer your question!! It may grow in your area. I've seen several here in Northern Alabama since moving here from Beaufort 3 years ago. Zone 7, heavy clay soils. However, these trees will never achieve the beauty that they will in the warm, humid southern climates. The same would go for your area. They are darn unappealing, frankly, even though they are a broad leaf evergreen tree, making it a novelty here.

I'd suggest that you do what I've done: I have a spectacular poster of a wonderful live oak scene. It reminds me of coastal SC in a much more appropriate way.

Here is a link that might be useful: Live Oak fact sheet

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 4:15PM
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Thanks for the information. To tell you the truth, I already have a picture of the live oaks from Boone Hall Plantation that i set to the background on my desktop!!!!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 5:23PM
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Hey, Dorie
Did y'all ever decide if that one in Robert's yard is Q.virginiana or Q.fusiformis? He sent me digital photos of it once, a number of years back.

There's a Q.virginiana growing in a relatively protected spot on the campus of the community college across the street from my office here in western KY - planted in 1970, it has frozen back to the ground at least once during its life here - it's now a multistemmed large shrub/small tree, about 15 ft tall.
I've got a few small Q.virginiana seedlings growing in my nursery beds, from acorns collected on the Auburn University campus, but they sustain severe winter damage yearly. Am trying a few Q.fusiformis seedlings, from acorns sent by a friend who's growing them in KS.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 6:56PM
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wilmington_islander(9A/Sunset 28)

There are some large, native specimens in the Tidewater area of VA.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 8:26PM
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sandyhill(z-8a NC USA)

They don't have to be 100 years old to look cool.

Great trees IMHO.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:47PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hiya, Lucky! Yep, we decided that it couldn't be anything else! We've moved from that place, but we will sure keep a close watch on it.

Genetics plays an important part of the 'beauty' of live oaks. So does environment. A genetically rich live oak, planted in a city parking lot or along a street, or in a typical back yard will never fullfill it's potential.

But most people don't realize that (in the deeper south) as they reach a certain size, they begin to slow down their growth so that they can put on bulk. A mature live oak may only be 60 feet tall....but can spread nearly twice that. The ancient live oaks take on phenomenal spreads. They grow out instead of up.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:59PM
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sbeau(7b TX)

We have them in NE Texas, zone 7. I hadn't thought about the problem of their eventual size. They were planted in the divider space of a heavily traveled multiple lane road in Denton about 15-20 years ago. They have grown and look healthy. I know oak trees die if cars are parked too close to the trunks over a long period of time. I hope the divider trees will survive. They are pretty trees even when they're under 100 years old or not as large as some get.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:46PM
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wilmington_islander(9A/Sunset 28)

You have, more than likely, a subspecies of the live oak, the "Texas Live Oak", which isn't nearly as magnificient as the "true" live oak. I have mainly "sand live oaks" in my yard, which aren't as impressive either. But I do have too many magnificent specimens to count that see I everyday all around here!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 8:59PM
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arauquoia(z7b GA)

I was told that there are two species common to the Southeastern coastal region: a tall one and a short one.

If true, do you know their common and botanical names?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 3:55PM
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I don't know if this helps with your question but I'll tell you about the Live Oaks in my area.

We grow 'Live Oaks' in z7 Oklahoma City. Of course that term "Live Oak" is just a common name for most any evergreen oak. Live Oak around here will be Quercus virginianus var 'Fusiformis' or Quercus fusiformis depending upon the authority. There are 1000's of them around town but remember Oklahoma city is not all that old of town and these are Fusiformis so most are small by Deep South Live Oaks standards. However the smaller but hardier Fusiformis really fit most smaller city lots better than a Deep South giant. Fusiformis is a very tough tree around here and underused unlike 'Bradford' Pear. lol

The regular ole Deep South Quercus virginianus will grow here and succeed for many years. However many were damaged to killed in that terrible winter of 1983. These days most all nursery stock is Texas grown and thus most all "Live Oaks" are Texas Fusiformis which is the best species for my region anyway.

There are a few small areas in Southwest Oklahoma (zone 7) where Fusiformis are native. The record lows in those areas are around -20*f. Those native Oklahoma Fusiformis grow on very dry hillsides unlike the Deep South Virginianus. With northern native Fusiformis good drainage might be needed in a landscape planting unlike with it's Deep South cousin.

Here is a picture of some larger (for my area) Live Oaks at the AT&T building in OKC. It's funny but people call our local radio garden talk show and ask if they can grow a Live Oak in OKC and it's even funnier when the ignorant (no make that STUPID) host say's, "No they don't grow this far north". What is it with those people who call those garden shows about Live Oaks. Can't they just take a look around the neighborhood and see a few large Live Oaks showing they do indeed grow here. I think some folks have a permission complex needing authority figure approval before even doing something so simple as planting a tree. lol

uscva36, I think you might succeed growing a true Live Oak but get one grown from a northern native source tree. North Texas Fusiformis ecotrype would be cold hardy for zone 7 Richmond but you'll need to keep it's feet dry. Perhaps plant it on a berm or hillside.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 2:39AM
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During hurricane Rita the Oaks where the first trees down on our houses..I saw no less than 300 of them topple on homes and out buildings..these trees are native this area but roots and all came out of the ground

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 10:42AM
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We have literally thousands of live oaks that grow in Tidewater Virginia. They are however not native in Richmond. But in a protected area..might be worth a try. But they get huge in maturity, but it takes a long long time.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 12:02AM
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There are many live oaks in Richmond as I've come to learn over the last several days. MCV has several at the entrance to the West Hospital Building on Broad. The Edgar Allen Poe Musuem has one. There are several on Belvidere at Broad. There's one at 14th and Cary. In Mechanicsville, there's two on Creighton Road near Cold Harbor Road and I-295. There are several in Shockoe Cemetary on Hospital Street.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 8:06PM
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Live Oaks do fine in Raleigh. I imagine they would in Richmond. They are slower growing tahn many choices, but worth it IMHO.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 11:25AM
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The tree is cold hardy throughout z7. From my experience, seedlings will grow to 6 to 8 feet tall in about 5 years (in Atlanta). A 3- to 5-gallon plant will be the same size after the same time in ground. Point is, there's no advantage in purchasing a larger, potted plant.

For mail order, try Woodlanders in Aiken, SC

Here is a link that might be useful: Live Oak Source

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 8:07AM
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While on Vacation is South Carolina two years ago I gathered acorns from this beautiful tree. I live in coastal San Diego County. I planted them in pots for their first year and transplanted one year ago. My 3 acre property has plenty of room and I wanted a faster growing oak than Argrifolia which grows native here. I also read that Argrifolia can not take irrigation (turns out to be completely false) and I wanted something to grow in an irrigated landscape area. They are growing very well with constant beautiful reddish new leaves. You can almost see them grow. I feed the trees with Chicken manure, ash from the fireplace and bone meal.

At 50 I do not know how big and majestic the tree will be before I die, but who cares. When asked what he would do today if he knew the world ended tomorrow, Walt Whitman said he would plant an apple tree. You Go Walt!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 9:49PM
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These live oak were small sized when i transplanted them from our woods in the 70's, as you can see it doesn't take 200 years before they are of decent size.
Eastern Beaufort county, N.Carolina

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:29AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

If you have young Live Oak tree that want to double size in summer split bark on trunk up and down reason bark gets to tight and tree stop growing do this on tree with 5 are 6 year old 30 are more years is ok leave about between splits all around trunk. You don;t have to spilt allway to ground just low and high reach good place start. You be amazed at one year growth.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 8:34PM
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Volunteer pop up live oak Beaufort county,NC.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 5:49PM
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My father started planting live oak seedlings back in 1990, after Hurricane Hugo wiped out the tall pines in his yard. 22 years later, they are now over 30'x30'. Not massive, but plenty big enough for welcome summer shade.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 7:23PM
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