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All About Monterrey Oaks

by Keith Brown
April 22, 2010

Monterrey oaks (also known as Mexican white oak) started getting popular as a planting choice about 10 years ago. IMG_1755.jpgThere are a few scattered specimens around town that are older than this, but not many. So far, this tree is proving to be a hardy tree to the area and it is oak wilt resistant. I expect to see more and more of the Monterrey oak as the years go by. But, for now, the jury is still out on this tree in my opinion. We’ll need to see a number of these trees live into maturity before I give them a full-blown thumbs up. I’ve run across a few mature specimens and they all seem to be very free of problems. I’ve began recommending this tree regularly.

The tree is said to grow to 40-60′ in height. I haven’t seen any Mexican white oaks old enough to reach this height and certainly the growing conditions of your yard would have a large impact on max size. Near a water source, I can envision the Monterrey oak reaching these heights; in the hill country it would likely top out around 20-30′.

The only disease I really ever find on the Monterrey oak is powdery mildew. This is a very manageable disease. I’ve seen our regular spring oak worms chew on some of the foliage, but this is normal for all oaks in the area. The Monterrey is not any more prone or less likely to this kind of attack. As a whole they are definitely insect and disease resistant.

Pruning needs are very moderate for this tree. Because Mexican white oaks are fast growing they’ll need some regular pruning to keep low limbs out of the way. But, they don’t produce a lot of deadwood and they don’t need any creative pruning or thinning.

The Monterrey oak’s natural distribution ranges from Guatemala in central America all the way up through Mexico, and there is one small stand of Monterrey oaks in south west Texas found back in 1992. In its natural distribution, the Monterrey oak is found in many different ecosystems ranging from river banks, to cloud (mountain) forests, to arid-desert like areas. This is definitely a hardy tree suited for many different settings.

As the years go by and I see more and more healthy specimens, I find myself recommending the Monterrey oak more and more. The tree is fast growing, hardy and offers foliage for 10-11 months out to the year. Monterrey oaks are a good choice to bring greenery into the winter landscape and to provide a large barrier for privacy screening.

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  • Raul says:

    I have a Monterey Oak that was planted two years ago. It was in a 500 gallon container. Lately, I have seen ligth green leaves grow at the end of branches. That is, the first part of the branch has dark green leaves and at the end the light green leaves. Is this common?

    • Keith says:

      Wow! That is an enormous container grown tree. I’d need to see a picture of the leaves to be certain. It is normal for new leaves to come out an off color and then turn green as they develop. Usually, with monterrey oaks the leaves have more of a red color when they first emerge. If they are coming out yellow that may be an indication of a problem. Can you email me a photo to keith at AustinTreeExperts dot com?

  • Raul says:

    That was a typo. It was a 50 gallon container. I will e-mail you the picture.

  • Barry says:

    We have two Monterrey Oaks that were planted about 3 1/2 years ago. They are both about 12-15 feet in height and have what appear be healthy leaves. However, they exhibit vertical cracking/splitting on the base of the trunk extending up about 12 inches from the ground. One has a white, foamy substance oozing from the cracks (photos attached). There is also what appears to be ants swarming the cracks. Any thoughts?

  • sofia says:

    I just planted my monterey oak in the spring but the leaves keep turning brown and the top leaves have little holes in them. What do I do?
    Sofia

    • sofia says:

      enclosed pls find the pictures of my monterrey oak.
      Please tell me what to do???
      Sofia

      • Keith says:

        Considering how late we are in the season, I’m not too worried about some of the premature leaf drop. The sap coming from the trunk is another story. I’d guess that you have some boring insects that are creating a wound that sap is weeping from. You should do a borer treatment with a product such as Bayer tree and shrub insect control. It would probably be best to hire a pro. We offer programmed tree care services. You’d spend about $200 per year for 4 treatments including any insect and disease control as needed.

  • Brian says:

    I have just planted 3 Monterrey oaks. Approx caliper is 2″ and they are about 8-10 feet in height. I think they were 15 or 20 gallon. I noticed this morning that two of the trees have leaves turning yellow at the ends of the branches in a few places. They have been in the ground one week and I have been watering them every other day.

    Brian in Cedar Park

  • Brian says:

    Keith,
    Here are 3 pics to go along with my query about leaves turning yellow on my just planted Monterrey Oak

    • Keith says:

      This is normal color for new growth on a monterrey oak. Nothing to worry about here. You do need to try to get the piece of bamboo out of the ground near the trunk. In 2-3 years you’ll need to do a root flare excavation. Looks like the farm that grew your tree filled in too much soil around the trunk.

  • Brian Jones says:

    We have 2 50 gallon oak trees. One a Chinquapin and the other a Monterey.
    They were planted 2 years ago and are good condition. I want to know when a good time to prune the two would be. They are each getting disproportionately tall and I would like to create better proportions by cutting some of the branches for fullness.
    Any info would be appreciated.

    • Keith says:

      Less is more in regards to pruning for the first several years. Any pruning you do needs to be very conservative. Generally, I only like to address structural issues in the first 3-8 years ( influence a central leader and remove crossing limbs).

  • Garrett says:

    Keith,
    See the attached images. I just planted a 3.5″ Monterrey Oak 2 weeks ago that was a b&b tree from North of Dallas. When I planted it, the leaves were what I would consider “normal.” Shortly after planting, the leaves looked, and still look, like they do in the pictures – a yellow tint and stiffer than normal. Is this something I should be worried about? Too little water? Too much water? Too much fertilizer/root stimulator?
    Thanks for the help!

    PS – I can’t get the images to save to your blog. I’ve tried two different sized images on 3 different browsers and 2 different operating systems.

  • Kelly says:

    I also have a new Monterrey Oak planted maybe a month ago…250 gallons. I live in Austin & was told by the landscaper that it would be green year round but over the last couple of weeks, most of the leaves have turned yellow…a little help? I really hope I’m not losing it!!!

  • mark says:

    I have planted 12 large Monterrey oaks in the yard over the last few years. With the very cold weather they do lose a lot of leaves but they come back fine. I was told they would not lose leaves but they do. Actually the Chinquapin oak I planted is better about keeping its leaves than the Monterrey oaks. Someone told me differently but in San Antonio this is not the case. Either way, they are 2 very beautiful oak trees. Not to worry if they lose their leaves. This year 2011 my 12 Monterrey oaks have lost about 1/3 of their leaves in very cold weather and about 1/4 of the remaining leaves have changed color and will probably drop before spring.

  • What would happen to a mexican sycamore tree if I water it in the winter & spring?

    • Keith says:

      Probably nothing. If it’s a newly planted tree, it’ll be happy for the water even though it’s dormant season. This is assuming you aren’t over watering, that’s never ok. Type ‘water’ in the search box on the right and check out those articles.

  • Paula says:

    Do you know anyone who sells this species as veneer flitch?

  • s.ulbrich says:

    We planted to 2 monterry oaks 2 years ago .All the leaves turned brown when the first small cold front came. The leaves haven’t fallen off and I don’t see any new ones . Has my tree died? They were healthy before.

  • DB says:

    Interesting and informative website. Earlier this year, we planted two Mexican White or Monterrey Oaks, which we purchased from different places. Both appear to be doing well, but one has much smaller leaves than the other. Is this just normal, a result of different breeding or something to be concerned about? Thanks.

  • i’m creating a web page for wildlife habitat creation in the austin area and would like to provide a link to your pages for information regarding trees. may i do so?

  • Patricia Kirk says:

    I have a Monterrey Oak that was planted about 2 years ago here in Houston. I’ve noticed this year that there is some sort of scale on the leaves. When scratched this scale exudes a bit of oily/greasy substance. Do you know what this is and what can be done about it? The tree looks healthy except for this, and was fertilized last fall.
    Thank you

  • Emaco says:

    We have a Monterrey oak that we planted 2 years ago. This winter it lost nearly all of its leaves. Only the leaves on the bottom half came back this Spring. The top ~4 feet is completely bare. Will it come back? Is the top half dead? Should we prune it?

    • Keith says:

      Any part that doesn’t have leaves at this point, isn’t going to leaf out. Prune out the dead parts and start a good fertilization regimen.

  • Frank Barron says:

    trying to plant a 125 gal monterrey this weekend but dont know how much water to give it for the first two years? I read that planting in June might not be a good idea. Please help so i dont make mistakes.

  • Sue says:

    Planted 50 gal monterrey year ago May and it seems to be doing well except for a bit of bark on the lower trunk that seems to be peeling off. Is this normal? And, when do I fertilize tree for 1st time? Thx

  • Daniel says:

    Keith,
    Would you recommend against planting a Monterrey Oak between two houses that are ~15-20 feet apart? I understand that the trees grow straighter than other oaks, and I am wondering if the roots do the same. I am trying to avoid slab/root damage as the tree matures.
    Thanks,
    Daniel

  • Karen says:

    I got a 15 to 18 foot Monerrey Oak at a 4th of July Auction. Can I plant this now or wait till fall?

  • Raul says:

    Keith,
    I am worried that my Mexican White Oak might be dying. I live in south texas(The Rio Grande Valley). I purchased a 10-gal, approx. 10 ft tall Mexican White Oak tree from Home Depot back in March/2011 – It had an orange tag on it that stated that i came from a nursery in Ben Wheeler,TX. I planted it on 3/19/11. In reference to planting it, I followed the instructions from a local nursery. I began watering it according to the instructions i found on this website, in the article titled, “How to Water a Newly Planted Tree” (posted May 3, 2010). Throughout the rest of the month of march – towards mid-may, my tree looked good. I mean the leaves remained green and big(about 2 inches long). Sometime towards the end of May and to this day, the tips on the leaves of my Mexican White Oak began and are turning brown – they have not shrunk, nor have they fallen off. Another thing i did was get my hands on some humic acid and applied it to the tree throughout this time period. I applied the humic acid 3 times so far, once in april, may, and june. Each time i applied 2 oz of humic acid with 15 gallons of water. I would take a 5 gallon bucket, put 1 oz of humic acid and then filled it with 5 gals of H2O, did it again and finally the third time i would just fill the 5 gal bucket with only H2O. I also applied Superthirve once – May – the same day that i applied the humic acid. For the Superthrive, I took one ounce and mixed it with 5 gals of water. From what i have told you, what do you think is wrong with my tree? Why are the tips of the leaves brown?

  • PAUL A SOTO says:

    I planted a chinquapin oak about 15 feet from my slab driveway. Do I have to worry about slab damage from the root system as the tree matures?

  • [...] at Green and Growing up the road, and with a final vote from my other half we picked up a Mexican White Oak (aka Monterray Oak.) We believed our previous tree to be a Silver Maple, and it was quite large for [...]

  • Sam says:

    We live in San Antonio and in our backyard we have a section that is open, we can therefore see right into our back neighbors house, we have been told of two tress to look at, hillspire Juniper or Monterrey Oak. Any idea which one would be better.

    Thanks

  • Rodney says:

    Is the Monterrey Oak resistant to Cotton Root Rot? I am interested in planting a number of them.
    Thanks

  • Frank Alcaide says:

    Hi, Keith. I live in new jersey, but i was born in an area of mexico that is very hot and most what i see there is mesquite. I was wondering if some time in the future i can go to my place and plant some monterrey oak trees. I am a master gardener and i wish if i can get seeds or find the best way on how to propagate the monterrey oak tree. I will be very greatfull if you can guide me on how to get seeds or more information .I thank you in advance for your generosity, Frank.

    • Keith says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have any experience propagating seeds. You might try with your regional state Forester.

    • David says:

      Regarding Frankie’s question about propagating Monterey oaks from seed, last November in the New Braunfels (between Austin and San Antonio) park where the Comal River begins, I picked 5 acorns from a Monterey oak. I planted each in a one gallon pot, about two inches deep. All five germinated and are currently about six inches tall. I live in zone 7 and do not know whether they will freeze.

    • Kathleen says:

      Frank, I am in San Antonio and have had great success propagating Monterey Oaks. Acorns are plentiful this year and now is the time to gather and plant them. I would only add to David’s post with instructions to plant them in place during their first year…protect them from wildlife, if necessary.

  • Hello. I had a young Monterrey Oak planted by a nursery last year. It’s growing well. But yesterday we noticed that all the leaves have a strange bumpy texture and it looks ODD! Does it have a disease? What can I do? Thank you!

  • Linda says:

    Keith, I have a monterrey oak that is about 7 years old. It is large and provides lots of shade. Last month it lost all it leaves(as usual) and I saw new tiny leaves emerging. Yesterday I was in my back yard and was shocked to see all the tiny leaves were dead. My neighbors have this tree and they are fully leaved now. What has happened and is my tree dead?

  • Gracie says:

    Hi Keith, the nursery planted a Monterrey Oak in my back yard. I can see little sprouts but they die. What’s wrong? Nothing grows in my back yard!

  • diana says:

    I have Monterrey Tree, it hasn’t grown much in the last 4 years. What does it take

  • Gloria Uribe says:

    I have aphids on my Monterrey Oak, but not the roller aphids. The leaves are turning brown and falling not fall yet.

  • Jude says:

    I have a Monterey oak that is approximately forty feet tall and is 12 years old. Just today I have noticed that a vast majority of the leaves have many browns spots on them. Do you have an idea of the cause of this? Let me know and I will try sending you a picture if necessary.

  • Ron says:

    Planted three in the Spring and they are doing fine. 12 miles North of Burkburnett,Texas.

  • John Acker says:

    Keith – I noticed someone asked my question earlier, but it wasn’t quite answered. My Monterrey Oak is four years & going gangbusters. Today, however, I observed at least 200 very small, blackish ants swarming the splits in its lower trunk. Need I worry?

  • David Caruthers says:

    Hello,

    You seem to be THE authority on these trees! We have planted four in the back yard, 2 ten footers and 2 six footers. All seem to be settling in nicely however they have something eating the leaves. Is it the spring oak worms you mentioned? Because it happens year round. Do grasshoppers eat the leaves? And is there any pesticide to use or just keep spraying them down with water?

    Thank you

  • Marc says:

    I have a newly planted 15 gallon Monterrey White oak that been planted in an area that gets direct hot sun from about noon until about 4 pm. I’m worried about over watering it as we just replaced a same sized tree that my landscaper is going to rehabilitate (it’s not dead but mostly brown). This one was planted Friday and the top is starting to brown out. My landscaper recommended only watering the tree every 3 days on a slow flow for 20 mins. I don’t want to over do the watering but understand this is a stressful time of the year to plant trees in Austin with the high temps. Any assistance is appreciated!

  • Walt Jenkins says:

    We live in Sunset Valley off of Brodie & are replacing a Cedar Elm in a generally sunny area. Considering Bur or Monterrey. Any suggestions?

  • Richard Batz says:

    What size Monterrey oak is available for planting. What size would you recommend for San Antonio.