Cedar Elm

Top 20 Shade Trees for San Antonio!
Custom Plant Information by Wilson Landscape Nursery & Florist- Helotes, Texas

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# 5—Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis; virginiana
You have come to a great tree in your search! We at Wilson's hope that you find this plant information to be helpful and interesting. Let us know if we can help you further as you search for that special tree. Our information is based upon decades of loving trees, learning about trees, growing trees, maintaining trees, talking about trees, selling trees. planting trees, watching trees grow, enjoying the beauty of trees and being grateful to God for creating trees!

“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 2:9; 1:12)

Strengths and Weaknesses Listed
All of our plant information sheets will eventually include a section on weaknesses instead of just strengths. All trees have weaknesses and strengths. In order to thoroughly evaluate a tree, you should consider both. Let me begin by offering some strengths of Live Oak and then I will describe some weaknesses. You will be happy to discover that this trees strengths overcome its weaknesses! In fact, from our viewpoint, Live Oak definitely makes the “Top-Twelve” list coming in at # 5. But perhaps, it will become your number #1 choice.

Strength: King of the San Antonio Area Forest
The Live Oak will always be king of the San Antonio area forest. This does not mean that it ranks #1 on our “Top-Ten” list. This is only because so many Live Oaks already grace the countryside. It might be difficult to get excited about planting a Live Oak if you already have ten growing in your yard! Not to mention that the entire countryside and San Antonio is forested with Live Oaks. But imagine if you had never seen a majestic Live Oak, then, you probably would want one of those!

Strength: A Truly Majestic Tree With Age
As a Live Oak gets older it begins to develop that classic limb structure, not that it doesn't have anything to offer when younger. But the Live Oak is known for its aged, squatty form and huge limbs that reach out horizontally. It is a very strong tree. Where the tree first branches out from the trunk is called the boughs or lowest major limbs. Fewer boughs are more majestic than allowing many to grow. You can thin the amount of limbs to develop the most awesome looking tree. Live Oaks just have an attractive limb structure. If you want prettier leaves there are better choices but when it comes to limb structure and form, Live Oak is #1. Especially on trees with some age, you can clean out redundant growth, trim out dead wood and ball moss, to reveal its beautiful form.

Strength: A Legacy For Future Generations
If you want to plant a tree that lives hundreds of years and leaves a legacy for generations to come, plant aLive Oak. If you want our city to be even more beautiful in 200 years, plant a Live Oak. The oldest Live Oak tree in Texas is found at Goose Island State park and is estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 years old. There are Live Oak trees in the San Antonio area estimated to be 600 years old.

Strength: Number #1 in Drought Tolerance
If you need a tree that you don't have to water after it is established, the Live Oak is #1 on the list. Of the large shade trees in our area, Live Oak is the most drought tolerant. You can plant one just about anywhere and it will survive and probably will even thrive. There is “drought tolerance” and then there is “drought looks.” A Live Oak is not only drought tolerant but still looks good even in droughts. Ofcourse, all new trees are very vulnerable when first planted. Your new Live Oak will need to be gently flooded several times during the first year. But after that, a Live Oak can pretty much take care of itself. It will appreciate a good watering every now and then and grow faster that way. Be sure to read our watering guide to make sure that you water properly at first.

Strength: Pretty Much Evergreen
The Live Oak holds its leaves 11 months out of the year. It loses it leaves during late winter but immediately puts new leaves back on. So you can pretty much think of it as a Evergreen. This means that when it is young and the crown is full of leaves and branches, it makes a good privacy tree. You don't have to clean it out as it gets older if privacy is important.

All trees have weaknesses and strengths. In order to thoroughly evaluate a tree, you should consider both. You will be happy to discover that this trees strengths overcome its weaknesses!

Weakness: Early Spring Leaf Clean-up and Pollen
Perhaps the most annoying thing about Live Oaks is cleaning up all the fallen leaves of late winter and early spring. Just when you thought you were finished with the fall leaves, the Live Oaks mess up your early spring lawn. Leaving thick Live Oak leaves on your lawn is not good for your turf grass because the leaves shade out your grass. Live Oak leaves are very thick and slow to decompose on their own. And then there is the Oak pollen that comes close behind the leaf drop. Many people are allergic to Oak pollen, but because there are so many trees in our area already, not planting one will not make much difference.

Mow Your Leaves!
Since you have to mow your grass/weeds anyway, why not just mow your leaves as well! This works really well if you mow them several times. You can do this gradually over a period of weeks or all at once. A good blower and mower work wonders. First blow or rake out all the leaves in your beds into the grass. Also blow off patios and sidewalks and anywhere where your mower will not reach. Then, you can begin mowing. The pulverized leaves will be good for your grass as long as they are not more than an inch thick.

Weakness: Redundant Growth And Ball Moss
Live Oaks look better when they are cleaned out of dead wood and ball moss. As the tree shades out its own lower limbs it creates some dead wood. This is a natural process where the tree needs only to keep its upper growth foliated and healthy with sunlight. The lower growth becomes redundant and may die or have very few leaves with little chance of reaching sunlight again which is necessary for life. Ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata) tends to attach itself to this undergrowth. Ball moss grows well in areas with low light, high humidity and poor air circulation. It does not suck juices from the tree but it can cover up green foliage starving it of light which also adds to the dead wood problem. Normally, ball moss is a sign that the tree needs to be cleaned out of its dead wood and redundant growth. This improves the lighting, air circulation, and looks good too, revealing the beauty of the larger healthy limbs.

Weakness: The Oak Wilt Scare
Much has been said and written about the disease called Oak Wilt (Bretziella fagacearum). Live Oak trees are susceptible to this disease when near certain danger zones by mortality centers. Most damage has occurred in old growth established Live Oak areas out in the Hill Country where conditions are more dry and harsh. But the disease is present in the San Antonio area. Helotes, Leon Valley, Hollywood Park, Shannon Park and Fair Oaks have areas of Oak wilt that have been mapped.

How Oak Wilt Usually Spreads And Is Contained
Oak wilt can spread by certain tree beetles, but it is not so much the beetles you have to worry about, it's the roots. Oak Wilt is most often spread by the interconnecting root systems in a particular area. Trees close to each other have roots that are intertwined and that fuse together transferring the disease that way. The root systems of trees are far more extensive than you might realize. The feeder roots of a large Live Oak tree will extend far out beyond the drip line of the tree. Lateral roots can grow 90' feet beyond the trunk of a large tree. The standard method of stopping the advance is to trench deeply enough to severe the infected roots so that they cannot advance and fuse with other healthy tree roots in the area. Trees are also treated with a chemical called Alamo.

Oak Wilt Not a Problem For Newly Planted Trees

Unless you live very near an infected area, yoewly planted Live Oak will not be in any unreasonable danger of contracting the disease. Furthermore you will not be contributing to the spread or hindering the efforts of those fighting the disease. Keep in mind that Live Oaks are being planted all over the city with no documented cases of newly planted trees being infected. New subdivisions have been planted with thousands of Live Oak tree causing no spread of the disease.

Is The Danger of Oak Wilt Exaggerated?
There is no scientific evidence that Live Oak trees will eventually be wiped out. Oak wilt seems to follow its own limited course but has not overtaken entire areas, even where there are mortality centers. If the fear of Oak wilt keeps you from planting this wonderful tree, then I believe the danger has been exaggerated. Of course, we all want to stop the spread of this disease by containing these mortality centers and by painting cuts to prevent beetles from infecting other trees. But the way to do that is not by giving up on planting Live Oak trees. If so, we will have been defeated before fighting the war.

A Blessing For You
We hope that this plant information helps you as you search for that perfect tree. Whichever tree you choose, may it bring you many years of beauty and peace.

May you and your tree be “like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3)Type your paragraph here.

Live Oak Tree

​If you are interested in buying or browsing Live Oak Trees in Helotes or San Antonio, Wilson Landscape has an impressive stock of all sizes and shapes of trees. We always keep a good selection of live oaks on hand. We carry beautiful, home grown 30 gallon sizes with extra large calipers. We grow all of our trees from acorns and seeds and only use the best fertilizers. We have beautiful Live Oaks to choose from, and we offer lower prices. We specialize in tree growing, and we only grown native and well adapted Texas trees, so you can be sure they will flourish. Best of all, Glenn and Sherry are plant experts and would love to answer any and all questions and concerns you may have about your specific tree needs. Our knowledge is something that is hard to find. Come on in or give us a call today! 
(210) 695-2703

Other Top 20 Trees

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Quercus virginiana; fusiformis