|IT’S WINTER; SO LET’S PLANT SOME TREES!
By Lorissa Grymes, Victoria County Master Gardener Intern
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
February 8, 2007
The winter months are most often thought of as a time for staying indoors. I think of it as an opportunity to go outside and get some planting done. Now is a great time to get trees into the ground. While one may think that nothing is growing during the winter months, we must remember that roots are still active. By transplanting trees now, roots can begin to grow and get a head start before vegetative growth begins in the spring. Careful planning can benefit the survival and appearance of your tree. Success starts with selecting the right tree for your location, so do a little homework first.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING A TREE SPECIES
The group of shade trees recommended in this article for Victoria County was chosen because of their ability to withstand various obstacles in our area. They are able to tolerate heat, wind, some drought, and our variance in soil type. Soil type is one of the most important considerations when choosing an appropriate tree species. Soils vary throughout Victoria County, but are usually considered poorly drained, loamy or clay soils. Most of the trees discussed in this article are able to adapt to most of our local soil conditions.
Available growing area is also important. My list of trees includes some large shade trees. Some of these can get quite large and overwhelm a small lot. Larger trees need room to spread out without taking over an entire yard. You will need to consider a smaller tree if you are not on a large lot or on one acre or more.
SELECTED TREES FOR VICTORIA COUNTY
Let’s begin with the oaks. They include bur oak, Chinquapin oak, lacey oak, live oak, Shumard oak, and Texas red oak. These have all proven to be dependable trees in our area. All are considered to be large in size with the exception of the lacey oak and the Texas red oak, which are classified as medium sized trees. Acorns are produced in all varieties. However, the bur oak produces the largest acorns of the bunch, some as large as 2 inches long and wide. The acorns are beautiful but can be a nuisance when mowing. Not only are the bur oak acorns large, but the leaves are as well (6 – 12 inches long). This makes for lots of leaves to rake in the fall.
Texas A&M considers the Chinquapin oak and the lacey oak as Texas Superstars. Both trees are seldom troubled by disease or pests. The Chinquapin develops an open rounded crown. Its rich green leaves have a distinctive saw-tooth shape that turn yellow to orange-brown in the fall. Lacey oak has an irregularly rounded crown with leaves emerging as a soft pink color which turn to blue-green as they mature. Fall color varies from brown to yellow.
Everyone is probably most familiar with the live oak. This is one of my personal favorites. When most other trees have no leaves in the winter, you can count on this one to provide green color in the landscape, as it is the only evergreen in the group. It is tolerant of poor soils, but does not like poorly drained soils.
Shumard oak and Texas red oak are probably the showiest of this selection in the fall. The lobed green leaves turn to a nice red and orange color towards the end of the year. They are somewhat similar in appearance, with the Shumard being the taller of the two.
The only real threat to our oaks, with the exception of the bur oak, would be their susceptibility to oak wilt. Oak wilt is a disease caused by a fungus. There are varying degrees of susceptibility and resistance to this disease among oaks. However, the disease is yet to be verified in Victoria County. Proper pruning (in late December – February 1st) will help prevent the spread of the disease to our area. Oaks pruned at any other time should be treated with a wound paint. Latex paint works best!
Lacebark elm and cedar elm are also reliable trees. Who could resist the peeling, flaky bark of the lacebark elm? This special feature creates an interesting mottled look on the trunk and branches. The cedar elm provides great shade with its tall, upright growth habit. It is, however, susceptible to Dutch elm disease. Both trees are deciduous, providing some yellowish to reddish purple in the fall.
Another preferred species is the bald cypress. Its dark green needle-like leaflets provide a feathery-fine textured feel in the summer, turning to a rich, brown color in the fall. The main drawback of the bald cypress is the “knees” formed from the roots that stick up in the lawn. These usually develop on yards that are over-watered and too wet and can become a nuisance when mowing.
Now, we can’t forget about the honey mesquite. The look of the mesquite makes me think of a Southwest theme. The fruit resembles a waxbean that is tan in color. Aromatic creamy flowers are displayed in spring, summer, and fall. Its attractive foliage, flowers, and fruit display somewhat of a graceful appearance in the landscape.
Last, but not least, is the Chinese pistache. I hesitate to recommend this tree simply because of its looks for the first 5 to 10 years. It is sometimes referred to as the “Ugly Duckling” until it reaches some maturity. If you can wait out the straggled look in the beginning, you will have a nice tree later on. It is also one of the most dependable trees for displaying its color in the fall for the South. Its high resistance to insects and disease make it almost pest free. It doesn’t like to be wet, so make sure it is planted in a well drained area.
Well, it’s time for me to tell my husband to go dig a hole in the back yard. At least he can’t say it’s too hot outside. I wish you the best planting weather.
LARGE SHADE TREES FOR VICTORIA COUNTY
Bur Oak 60-70ft 60-70ft
*Chinquapin Oak 50-90ft 20-40ft
*Lacey Oak 30-35ft 30-35ft
**Live Oak 40-50ft 80-100ft
Shumard Oak 75-90ft 50-60ft
Texas Red Oak 30-50ft 50-60ft
Lacebark Elm 40-50ft 40-50ft
Cedar Elm 80-90ft 70-80ft
Bald Cypress 50-70ft 20-30ft
Honey Mesquite 30-40ft 30-40ft
*Chinese Pistache 40-50ft 25-30ft
*Designated Texas Superstar by Texas A&M University
TREES FOR SMALLER YARDS
**Possumhaw Holly (pruned)
**Yaupon Holly (pruned)
*Designated Texas Superstar by Texas A&M University
|“The lacebark elm takes its name from its peeling, flaky bark that creates an interesting mottled look on the trunk and branches. It is deciduous, providing some yellowish to reddish purple in the fall.”|
|“The Texas red oak and the Shumard oak are probably the showiest of the oak trees in the fall. The lobed green leaves turn to a nice red and orange color towards the end of the year. They are somewhat similar in appearance, with the Shumard being the taller of the two. The Shumard is classified as a large tree while the Texas red oak is a medium size.
Photos re-printed with permission from Benny J. Simpson, TAMU – Dallas. Visit link here.