Vicki's Gardening

Live Oak Trees
Quercus virginiana
Page 2

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These trees are my two main trees in my back yard. These trees were container grown trees that I planted in February 1995. They were only about 10 feet tall at the time. In 5 years, they DOUBLED in size! They are obviously very happy growing here!

Eventually, I'd like for these trees to shade the main part of our back yard in front of our patio. They have already grown large enough to attract lots of birds and even a few squirrels.
One thing I want to do is track the growth of my trees for myself and for anyone else who might find it interesting. So here is a picture of the same trees 2 years later. They were trimmed again about a month before this picture was taken. A number of the smaller branches were hanging down so that they were close to hitting the roof of our house so they were removed. Also, by removing those branches, it lightened the ends of the branches we kept which helped to "pop them up" making them less likely to grow into the roof. I don't believe we'll have to remove any major branches from now on. The trees have taken on the shape I was wanting. Now it's just a matter of letting them grow while doing minor trimmings for small branches that grow towards the roof.
2 Years Later

This tree is my favorite. It started out as a seedling underneath one of the other trees in my back yard. Usually, I just pull out the seedlings like weeds, but this one had such beautiful shape that I decided to dig it up and put it in a pot. After a year or so, it started outgrowing its pot, and I had to decide to either throw it away, give it away or find a permanent place for it to grow. Finally, I found a place for it in my back yard. And I could not be more pleased with this tree!

For some reason, this tree is growing at a very fast rate. The fence behind it is 6 feet tall, and that tree grew to the size you see here in just 4 years! Wow! And as the tree continues to grow, it has become the favorite of all my trees.

In the first picture, it's difficult to see the branches, but they can be seen very clearly in the second picture. I was taking pictures at night and discovered that nighttime pictures were excellent for showing the branches of the trees so here's one of my first nighttime pictures of my trees. I hope to continue taking nighttime pictures in order to track the growth of the trees.

This tree is already ready for another pruning to thin out some of the branches to reduce the wind resistance. The tree has grown so tall that I may have to wait until I hire the professionals to prune it.

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I call this my Ugly Tree. This tree has sentimental value for me even though it absolutely will not cooperate in its growing habits. I grew this tree from a seedling which came from a large Live Oak tree from our old house. I miss that big tree. But at least I have its baby. But what an unruly baby it has proven to be!
After growing tall enough to plant in the yard (about 2 feet), it decided to let the wind push it over to one side. I staked it up. It continue to lean. I staked it even stronger. It leaned as if to openly defy me. I gave up and let it lean, but pulled the whole tree upwards as best I could (look closely at the very bottom of the trunk).

And then the branches started coming. Not upwards. Oh, no, not this tree. The branches grow almost perfectly horizontal. Sometimes I wonder if this is a tree or a mushroom!
There was a time in which I almost cut this tree down. I have also debated hundreds of times whether to remove the large limb that grew on the left side. But in all, I have decided to let the tree grow in its twisted manner. It does have a certain charming character about it. And the location in which it's planted works well for its shape.

Each year, it grows a little more upward, and the guys who prune my trees help to make this tree look a little better. The birds most certainly love it, and it's proving to be an excellent shade tree. So I guess even an ugly tree has its own beauty.

Basic Facts

Common Name:  Live Oak
Scientific Name:  Quercus virginiana
Hardiness Zones:  7b to 10
Habit:  Evergreen
Growth Rate:  Slow to moderate
Site Requirements:  Sun; range of soil types; tolerates moist and compacted clay soil
Texture:  Medium
Form:  Massive, wide spreading; horizontal and arching branches; oval crowned; picturesque with age
Height:  30 to 50' (source 1) / 40 to 80' (source 2)
Width:  50 to 80' (source 1) / 60 to 100' (source 2)
Leaf:  1.3 to 3" alternate, simple, leathery leaves topside; soft gray underside
Flower/Fruit:  Flowers in Spring; yellow-green catkins
Fruit .7 to 1" acorn; 1 to 5 on a stalk; football shaped; pronounced barb at tip; cap covers around 1/4 of nut
Propagation:  Seed and cuttings
Comments:  Native; shade tree; excellent for coastal areas; old leaves drop in Spring; salt tolerant; acorns eaten by birds and squirrels; dark charcoal bark; good street tree; exceptionally strong and heavy wood; will live for hundreds of years; shallow spreading roots; state tree of Georgia; larval plant for white hairstreak butterfly; used to construct the ribs and hulls of ships in the 1800s
Problems:  Oak Wilt; Midge galls

Facts Source 1:  NC State University Plant Facts
Facts Source 2:  Texas Tech University Live Oak Facts
Zone Map:  USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

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