Question of the Week: March 2, 2017

“Neil, why are my live oaks and waxleaf ligustrums losing all of their leaves?”


Live oaks vary. Note full complement of leaves on tree on left. Tree on right has shed 75 percent of its foliage.


People have been asking me about this for the past 10 days, and I suspect it will go on for another week.

These are broadleafed evergreens. But that doesn’t mean that they are forever green. All plants rotate a new set of leaves in at some point. For live oaks and ligustrums, that happens fairly early. Hollies will come next, and eventually even southern magnolias will kick in as their weathered leaves fall and are replaced in late April and May.


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It’s all normal. It may have been exacerbated by this winter’s cold, but it’s normal. Those are the old leaves making room for the new growth.

Live oaks look fabulous 50 weeks out of the year, but there is that transition time in late winter when they can go almost bare. It scares everyone into thinking some kind of a serious problem is about to take their lovely trees.

Trust me on this one: if the trees looked great going into the winter, this is normal. There is no need to worry and no call to action! You are hereby released to worry about something else.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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