Richard C. Bogren, Owings, Allen D.
News Release Distributed 11/15/13
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – We are now at the time of the year ideal for planting shade trees in Louisiana, and oaks are among our most popular landscape trees.
Most of us are very familiar with the Southern live oak, but we have an abundance of other oak trees recommended for Louisiana. One, the Louisiana native willow oak (Quercus phellos), has been named a Louisiana Super Plant for fall 2013.
Deciduous oaks (those that lose foliage in winter) common in Louisiana are water, shumard, southern red, nuttall and willow. One of the best of these for landscape consideration is the willow oak.
Willow oak is a slow-to-moderate-growing oak with finer-textured foliage that makes an exquisite landscape tree. Willow oaks are being used in commercial and residential landscapes around the state and have good adaptability to varying soil types. Most oaks, including willow, prefer a slightly acid soil.
Willow oaks have an upright growth habit and an average mature height of 60 to 80 feet. Spread will be about 40 feet at maturity. The canopy is great for street plantings and where a columnar, tighter-growing oak is needed. This tree works well in urban landscape settings.
The foliage is a unique characteristic of the willow oak – fine textured. Leaf litter debris is not a major concern with willow oaks. Its acorns are smaller than other oak species but still provide great wildlife benefit.
Fall foliage color is typically good on willow oaks. Color is better in north and central Louisiana than in south Louisiana.
Willow oak trees have no pests or disease issues of major concern. Improper pruning cuts can lead to stem cankers. When pruning, do so in winter, and maintain lateral branches to allow a functionally shaped tree to develop.
Very few oak trees are better for landscape use and adaptability than the willow oak. The LSU AgCenter has willow oak listed as a top-rated tree for the much of the state. Its tolerance to varying soil conditions, moderate growth rate, fall foliage color, fine texture, small leaves and good branching characteristics make this tree an outstanding performer in the home or commercial landscape.
Fall is a great time to plant trees, and what better trees to plant than a Louisiana Super Plant. Willow oak joins the Drift series roses and the new Diamonds Blue delphinium cool-season bedding plant as Louisiana Super Plants for fall 2013. You can see more on Louisiana Super Plants here.
Louisiana Super Plants have been selected for 2014, so be on the lookout for announcements of them next spring and fall.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.