Do you know the best time of year to prune an oak tree? Most people think it’s summer, but that’s not the case. Oak trees should be pruned in winter, when the tree is dormant, and the sap runs into the roots.

Pruning them in summer is a mistake because the tree is using its energy to protect itself from bugs, extreme heat, infections, etc. If you cut the tree at that time of year, it doesn’t have energy to heal itself. However, if you prune them in winter, they’re able to use their energy to restore themselves so they come back stronger in the spring. Once the warm weather hits, the tree wakes up and starts healing itself. Much like the human body, it sends its resources to the “wound” which will allow it to start blooming again.

Another important reason to prune oak trees in winter is that if they are cut during other times of the year, your beautiful tree is in danger of developing a deadly fungal disease called Oak Wilt. Even the mighty oak will lose its strength from this dreaded disease if pruned at the wrong time of year.

What is Oak Wilt Disease?

Oak Wilt Disease is a fungal disease that moves through the vascular system (water conducting tissue) of the tree. Small beetles that feed on sap from freshly cut trees and carry the fungus spores. The beetles are attracted to freshly cut trees. Once the beetles feed and the fungus moves into the roots of the tree, the tree tries to save itself by plugging cells which cause the tree to wilt.

Can the Disease Spread to Other Oak Trees?

Yes, this is the devesting part of Oak Wilt. The diseased tree can spread the infection through its roots to near-by trees of the same species. It can literally wipe out all the oak trees in your yard.

How Do I Know If My Tree Has Oak Wilt Disease?

There are two different types of oaks – red oaks and white. Infected red oak trees can wilt and die quickly – somethings within weeks. The white oaks may survive for one to two years.

The first symptom is browning leaves at the top of the tree. Then whole branches may be seen yellowing and then turning brown, as the disease makes its way down the branch. Once this happens the leaves will start to fall.

Another symptom is a fungal mat that grows under the bark, causing the bark to crack. These fungal mats attract sap beetles that carry the disease to fresh wounds of the uninfected trees.

What Should I do to Save My Trees?

Contact the ISA certified arborists at Artistic Tree & Landscape Creations. We will diagnose your tree and do everything possible to preserve its lasting beauty. We can be reached at 412-303-4443.