makushr1
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Fertilize Oak Tree

Just planted a 10-15ft red oak in Houston. I read to use some organic fertilizer like bone meal. Any other suggestions on what fertilizer to use? Any specific brands I should look at?

john gault
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I don't know anything about that species of oak, but I do have a live oak in my yard that I planted ~20 years ago, then shortly after that moved away (but kept the house) after retiring from the navy I returned and that live oak, which was only about 2 ft when I left is now ~50 ft. Never really did anything for that tree and it grew pretty well. Oaks are hardy trees and fast growers.

However, if I had to do it all over, I'd mulch a large area for it. That's what I've done since returning home and the foliage does seem much healthier. I don't just muclh a small circle, I've mulched a very large area, because the grass wasn't growing too well any way and I think it looks better with a large mulched area and healthy green grass on the edges of the dripline, also much quicker to mow my yard now.

BTW, I didn't buy mulch I went around neighborhoods with numerous live oaks and collected bags of leaves the residents left out for the city to pick up.

makushr1
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yeah, I mulched it when I first got it. I only mulched about a 4ft radius around it since it was being transplanted from a pot that was only about 2 feet wide. Next Spring I'll mulch a larger area when I do some major landscaping renovation.

But anyway, I'm pretty sure the soil has been sucked dry of nutrients. And yeah, Oaks are pretty hardy trees and I'm sure it will do fine with just watering, but I don't see the harm in adding just a little fertilizer to it. Unless someone can point me in another direction, I'll probably just go to a local nursery after work and see what they recommend.

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rainbowgardener
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Really, if you just planted it now (you transplanted a big tree like that NOW while the temps are in the 90's for the foreseeable future?? -- not generally a good idea), DON'T fertilize it. The tree being moved and transplanted in this heat is already under considerable stress. Give it all the water it can soak up without being waterlogged, mulch well but not touching the trunk, and let it be. Fertilizing forces top growth, while it doesn't have resources for that. You want it to be focusing on growing roots right now. Think about drilling some holes 3 feet down into your soil and pouring water in to those, to be sure water is getting to deep roots.

If the tree makes it and does well, next spring you can fertilize, if you want (though you don't have to). Drill the holes again and drop tree fertilizer spikes down in to them. Nothing you can do on the surface makes that much difference to a big tree.
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makushr1
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Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:22 pm
Location: houston

I planted it in May, and it's doing very well. New leaves growing and the branches getting larger. I knew it was a toss up due to the heat if it would survive, but it is and it's thriving. I talked to some people in my area and they said as long as I water it deep a few days a week, it should be fine.

Also, rainbow, let me ask you this. I thought the nitrogen is fertilizer was what promotes top growth and phosphorus stimulates root growth. Is that not the case?

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rainbowgardener
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No you are right, but if you are talking about any synthetic Miracle Gro type fertilizer it will have both. And especially if the tree is growing well, the roots don't need stimulating. And anything you do on the surface won't make much difference to the deep roots you want to encourage.

Agree with you re the deep watering and relatively frequent watering given how hot it is and that it is the tree's first year. Next year you will do deep watering but less frequent. But deep watering for a tree is put the hose on trickle and let it run all day, just moving it to different sides of the tree every once in awhile.
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tomc
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Hardwood and nut trees, I never ever add fertilizers to. IMO they need water for the first couple years after transplanting. and a spring anf all application of shredded bark mulch.

Trees take up food with the help of mushroom familys. They're whats going to feed the tree. feed them, feed the tree.

Added fertilizer feeds the lawn, not the tree.
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