The Top 5 Reasons You Should Plant Mexican White Oak

Mexican white oak (Quercus polymorpha) is such an incredible tree that it’s even become a favorite of the vaunted University of Texas at Austin.

In fact, the facilities services of the university recommend its landscape planners pay particular attention to this “university favorite” when it comes to selecting species for the 434-acre urban campus.

Never heard of Mexican white oak or its aliases, Monterrey oak and netleaf white oak? Don’t feel bad.

It’s only recently become a go-to tree for gardeners in the South, and its distribution — and popularity — is slowly spreading.

This species naturally ranges from Guatemala all the way north through Mexico and to one small stand discovered in southwest Texas in 1992.

It is adapted to U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 7-10.

As can be attested to by any Longhorn who’s studied for a final exam in the exceptional shade provided by the tree’s expansive boughs, there are ample reasons to love this species, even if you don’t bleed burnt orange.

Let’s run through the top 5 reasons this burly beauty is a no-brainer for landscapes that will accommodate it.

1. Speedy Growth, Long Life

Fast-growing trees tend to be “trash trees” — plants that for any number of reasons aren’t particularly desirable to have in your landscape.

Learn why Monterrey Oaks are among the best landscape tress for Zones 7-10: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/landscape-trees/mexican-white-oak/
Photo by Ralph Barrera

Mexican white oak is an exception to that rule.

This tall treasure grows to 40 feet — and it gets there quickly. With a growth rate of as much as 4 feet per year, a newly planted sapling will tower majestically over your home well before you pay off your mortgage.

Growth rate and ultimate height, of course, are dependent on growing conditions. Thin soil and extreme drought may limit the tree’s ability to achieve maximum height, says Skip Richter, a county extension agent with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.

The trunk can grow to be two feet in diameter, though as a sapling, the tree is lanky and gangly before it fills out, according to Richter. “Sort of like a teenager,” he adds.

And your teenage sapling is quite likely to mature well into grandparenthood, as the Monterrey oak’s average lifespan is about 100 years.

When mature, the tree has a broad and rounded crown, and provides excellent cooling properties for your home.

2. Almost Evergreen

The leaves of this oak tree are four to five inches long with smooth or serrated edges of varying degrees.

In fact, the “polymorpha” part of this plant’s scientific name refers to the fact that different specimens can have different leaf shapes.

Learn all about adding Monterrey Oak trees to your landscape: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/landscape-trees/mexican-white-oak/
Photo by Gretchen Heber

We’ve noticed that tiny seedlings’ leaves are more serrated and tend to smooth out as the tree matures.

This giant squirrel playground holds onto its leaves until late winter or early spring when it defoliates, followed by a rapid re-leafing period.

In lieu of a showy flower, the tree’s small, young leaves display an attractive red-peach color before turning bright green and then maturing into thick, deep green leaves with a leathery texture.

All in all, a Monterrey is leafless for just 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the climate in which it is planted.

In Austin, they begin to re-leaf before we’ve even finished raking up the fallen leaves.

3. Well-Adapted

While especially happy in dry environments with some rainfall, this tree is found in a number of varying ecosystems, including river banks, mountain forests, and desert-like areas.

Monterrey Oak bark is rough and multi-layered | GardenersPath.com
Photo by Gretchen Heber

This hardy species, as many Texas gardeners can attest, is extremely drought-tolerant. Even in July and August — when temperatures regularly hit triple digits — we don’t give them any supplemental water.

Mexican white oak prefers neutral to alkaline soil pH, and can adapt to many soil types including sandy loam and well-drained clay soils.

4. Resistant to Pests and Diseases

Monterrey oak is typically a very healthy tree.

Many types of oaks are susceptible to oak wilt – a highly contagious fungal disease that is often fatal. Members of the subgenus Erythrobalanus are particularly at risk of succumbing to this disease.

You may want to propagate a Mexican White Oak tree from an acorn: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/landscape-trees/mexican-white-oak/
Photo by Gretchen Heber

Thorough and conclusive research has not yet been done to determine how susceptible Mexican white oak is to this disease, according to Texas A&M professor of plant pathology and microbiology Dr. David Appel.

According to Dr. Appel, oak wilt has indeed been confirmed in these trees occasionally over the past 30 years.

However, according to the well-regarded specialist in tree disease biology, epidemiology, and control, “I am willing to assume, based on host biology, that Monterrey oaks are still more resistant and a better alternative than any of the red oaks when planting in a high-risk area for oak wilt infections.”

The trees may also be plagued on occasion by powdery mildew, but they are generally able to overcome that problem on their own, without human intervention.

Some Texas gardeners have seen spring oak worms snacking on the foliage, but the damage is minimal and usually doesn’t require breaking out the diatomaceous earth.

5. Minimal Care Required

Because Mexican white oaks are fast-growing, you’ll want to regularly prune the lower limbs to raise the canopy.

Other than that, these oaks don’t need much pruning or thinning — they aren’t plagued by deadwood the way live oak trees can be.

Assuming they are planted in proper soil and receive occasional rain, these green giants require no additional care.

Hooked? Here’s the Caveat

Now that we’ve got you fully captivated by this tree and you’re heading out the door, keys in hand, to drive to the nearest garden center, we must ask you to pause.

Monterrey Oak trees grow fast and they grow tall | GardenersPath.com
Photo by Ralph Barrera

Pat yourself on the back. You are now among the relatively few in the U.S. who have even heard of this species.

While hugely popular at UT and throughout Texas and a few other southern states, adoption of this tree, as with many “new” species, is slow.

Commercial gardeners are trying to meet demand, but, sadly, many garden centers do not yet carry this tree.

However, though you may not be able to find Monterrey oaks locally, you can find them online. SeedJungle Organics is one such purveyor, and they are available via Amazon.

Or, you could always plan a road trip to Texas. We love visitors!

Another option is to look for a seed-swap website. Mature trees produce bushels of 1-inch acorns that any Monterrey oak owner would be thrilled to get rid of.

Sharpen Your Shovel

If this tree sounds like a dream come true, it really is. Fast-growing, semi-evergreen, adaptable, disease-resistant, low maintenance… can you argue with that?

If you like tall, fast-growing trees, plant Mexican White Oak | https://gardenerspath.com/plants/landscape-trees/mexican-white-oak/
Photo by Gretchen Heber

How about adding one of these fast-growing giants to your landscape soon?

Had you heard of this tree species? Does it sound like something that would be a worthy addition to your landscape? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below.

Hook ‘em!

Photos by Gretchen Heber and Ralph Barrera, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

110 thoughts on “The Top 5 Reasons You Should Plant Mexican White Oak”

    • Hi Ann! Thanks for your question. It looks like you’re probably located in USDA Hardiness Zone 4. Unfortunately, this tree does best in zones 7-10 and isn’t recommended for areas with harsh winters.

      If you’re looking for a fast-growing tree to add to your landscape, you might like to try river birch, paper birch, tulip poplar, bald cypress, American sycamore, quaking aspen, or eastern white pine. Stay tuned for an informative post on these lovely shade trees (and more!) coming soon to Gardener’s Path.

      Reply
        • I live in Austin, TX. I lost my Monterrey Oak (planted in October, 2017) due to the freeze we had in February, 2021.
          This was an unusual winter for this area. Normally, if we have freezing temperatures it is usually only for a single night…maybe two nights. But that is it. This freeze lasted several days. I will replace this tree with a more hardly type that can endure any possible freezes that we may have in the future.

          Reply
        • I planted two new saplings (8-feet tall and spindly) in Dallas back in September. I was worried but they both came back with new leaves this Spring and seem to be doing fine.

          Reply
  1. I live in deep south Texas and this soil is just pure sand. What are my chances of this tree growing here?

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  2. I have planted three oaks … As I am in Austin, I was told they are fast growers! Two years and the trees may have grown 6in? I water regularly, the live oaks that were planted the same time have grown 2-3 feet! They are healthy, leaves are nice and green, but just will not grow……. ideas?

    Reply
    • I live in a new development and we have many of these – some grow indeed 2-3 feet a year after just a few years. Others, barely any growth. It is strange and I have to assume it is either lack of deep watering or rock soil that it hasn’t penetrated yet.

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      • We two 4-year old trees (planted in Feb 2017) in the Coastal Bend of South Texas. Did not have a chance to cover them before our 2021 hard freeze in FEB. We trimmed trees about 3 weeks before the freeze. Our Monterey Oaks have recovered nicely. This actually seems to be the spring where they have put on the most leaf growth.

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  3. Hey Gretchen,

    I’m a certified Arborist in California and I’m looking to purchase a Mexican White Oak (seedlings) or actually a tree to plant in Pasadena, CA. Any recommendations on how to get this tree or seedlings would be much appreciated.

    Thank you, John Brace

    Reply
    • Thanks for your message, John. It looks like the supplier that we recommended no longer has these seeds available- we’ll do some research. In the meantime, we have been able to locate some suppliers with acorns available on Amazon, but we’d like to find a reputable supplier for live plants as well. Stay tuned for an update!

      Reply
  4. We’ve had a Mexican Oak in our back yard for about 15 years. The tree is now about 35 feet in height and continues to grow very well. We’ve not seen too many of these in our Houston neighborhood, but we do have some nurseries who carry them. The tree limbs are really neat with lots of grooves and texture. The blue jays seem to enjoy nesting in ours and the squirrels hang out there as well.

    Reply
    • Hi Lynn,

      Glad you’re a member of the Monterrey Oak fan club! My husband gets a little testy when they defoliate and he has to rake up the leaves, but their beauty the rest of the year is worth a little raking effort. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Just bought one this weekend and can’t wait to get it planted!! I’m in San Antonio and I’m hoping it does well here too!

    Reply
      • It can be seasonal, Joan. Find a nursery that specializes in trees, call them up and ask them to let you know when they come in.

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      • I also live in San Antonio and have a beautiful Monterrey Oak that we planted about 8 years ago. It has grown so fast. We bought our tree from Milberger Nursery in San Antonio. I was there a few weeks ago and they have some. Tree was about 10 foot tall when we bought it and now towers over my 2 story house.

        Reply
    • I planted 3 Monterrey Oaks in my yard in San Antonio, TX about 3 years ago. in 10 gal. buckets from the local nursery. We have had a little snow, but all 3 are doing well. The oldest has a trunk about 4″ and produced around 50+ acorns which I am trying to germinate in a damp towel roll. I am starting to get roots break out of the acorn after two weeks today already! The others have not produced any acorns yet. Patience!

      Reply
  6. Will this tree work in the Texas Panhandle in a windswept edge of the canyons in caliche soil? If so, where can we find them for planting?

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I think this tree would indeed do well in your area and soil. In terms of where to find, you would have to consult area nurseries, or search online.
      Let us know if you decide to plant one!

      Reply
  7. We have a Monterrey Oak that we planted 5 years ago here in central Austin, and it has grown from a sapling to a almost 30 feet.
    We have conservatively pruned and it is really happy and healthy… however, I see that a lower limb really needs to be trimmed and it is the largest lower limb of the tree … about half the diameter of the trunk.

    If this isn’t taken off, it will not be used as we wanted, being able to stand and place patio furniture under as it is a great shade tree.
    So, my question is, when is the best time to take this limb off? It is so happy… and has grown faster than my expectations… I don’t want to make it unhappy!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I think you’ll be ok trimming off that lower limb, but I would wait until winter.

      Reply
  8. I live in San Antonio and have this tree. It dropped all of its leaves this winter and hasn’t leafed out yet but there are numerous buds. Should I be concerned?

    Reply
    • Hi Yvonne,

      I’m sorry I missed your note until now. Has your tree leafed out yet? My trees defoliated later than usual this year, but they leafed out again right away, as usual. When did your tree lose its leaves?

      Reply
    • One of our tree’s roots are quite close to the ground surface, but the tree is only about 10 feet from the front porch and hasn’t caused any damage to the slab there. So maybe they’re not strong/persistent enough to damage a foundation.

      Reply
  9. I live in San Antonio. Fanicks nursery has plenty of these at great prices. I built a new house downtown and now have planted 3 of the Mexican white oak/Monterey. I love that they hold their leaves year round. I guess they come in 10 gallon containers, 12’-15’ tall, 3” to 4” diameter for $300! My lot has black clay about 20’ to 30’ deep. The oaks seem to love it. I also have a Bur and a chinquapin, but they lose their leaves for the winter.

    Reply
    • Hello, fellow Texan! I’m glad to hear this tree does well in San Antonio, as well. I have a Bur Oak as well! Beautiful tree, but yes, it loses its leaves.

      Reply
  10. Thanks for the really helpful information about Monterrey Oaks. We have four approximately 5 year old trees. They are healthy and doing well. Is it possible to transplant them to another location?

    Reply
    • Sounds like your trees are lovely, Kay. I’m sorry you have to move them, which is always a tricky proposition. If you must, wait til wintertime. Water the soil around the tree throughly, and dig as large a rootball as possible. Try to take much of the soil with the roots, too.

      Reply
  11. I planted 2 white oaks in my backyard 3 years ago and one is growing very well and thriving in height and branches. The other one has barely gotten any height. Just this year it finally produced More leaves but the branches are super short. The trunk and height almost look the same as when we planted it – just more leaves now which I’m happy about. It’s just looks the same size as when we planted it. Odd since we planted both at same time and the other one is really growing well and this one isn’t. They are in opposite corners of my backyard. The one growing well sits in the west evening sun. That’s about the only difference I can think of. Any ideas of why the one is growing so well and the other one not. Thanks for any advice and guidance.

    Reply
    • Hi Holly…. you’ve stumped me! I can’t think of why that might be the case. I assume the soil is the same in both places? You might have to ask a local tree expert.

      Reply
  12. My city, San Antonio is planting trees in some neighborhoods. Mine is one of those. I am getting a Mexican White oak!!! There were several trees to choose from and this was the smallest as I don’t have a large lot! I should be getting it tomorrow afternoon!!
    Since I read your article I am really excited about this tree!!! I can hardly wait!!!

    Reply
    • Congratulations! How cool of San Antonio (I’ll be there on Sunday for a family gathering!) to do that. Fun that you got to pick a tree, and I’m so glad you picked this beauty. You won’t be disappointed!

      Reply
  13. I planted two 4” Mexican White Oaks in front of my house in Feb. and, per the nursery’s advice, kept two gator bags around the base of each. They were doing great for about 6 months. Then one got flooded. Now it has slime flux, beetles, and some little holes that look like sap sucker holes. It’s lost most of the bark around the base. I’m worried it’s girdled. I think the gator bags were a bad idea. When I try again, should I use them?

    Reply
    • Hi Deborah; thanks for reading my article. Yeah, I wouldn’t use those gators. It’s a tough tree, and doesn’t need babying at all.

      Reply
  14. I went to our local nursery ready to buy 2 Monterey Oaks in 65 gal. Pots the tree lady there talked us out of that saying we needed to buy the smaller tree saying they would grow up faster than the big one ????? I’m not understanding her logic. Can you help me. She says we need to buy the tree in 30 gal. Pots half the size. I’m trying to shade my house! My husband and I are in our late 60s we’d like to see these trees big. Hahahaha. Oh I live in Selma Texas.

    Reply
    • Wow, Patty, that’s a new one to me! I’ve never heard that and I’m not sure I buy it. It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? I’d go for the big ones! If you can gently loosen the root ball to encourage the roots to spread, that might be good.

      Reply
  15. I wish i had better news but this tree is confirmed susceptible to graft with other oaks and to die from oak wilt. I’ve observed and confirmed this in my regular duties as a master arborist using real-time pcr dna testing. It is documented on my youtube page and my website at arborcareconsulting dot com.

    Reply
    • Hi Kevin! Thanks so much for writing in. Thanks to your input and that of an expert at Texas A&M, we made some updates to the article. We really appreciate your keeping us on your toes with the latest information! As the proud cultivator of two of these beauties, I’m glad to learn that while they are indeed susceptible to oak wilt, they are less less susceptible than other oak types.

      Reply
      • Dr appel said they are less suceptible than red oaks – the most st suceptible of all. He chose his words carefully as typical of scientists. What he didnt say is that the Mexican Live oak is less suceptible than the Live Oak is. So, basically he is leaving open that possibility when or if any studies are actually ever conducted that it could very well be equal to the live oak in suceptibility. I think many of us are well aware of how live oaks fare infection.

        Reply
    • Do you think the tree might get too much water, Carla? We have a sprinkler system but only run it once a week (or less) because of city-wide watering restrictions. If too much water is your fear, I think you are ok.

      Reply
  16. The City of San Antonio had a native tree giveaway this morning and I was able to grab one of these. I’m having trouble finding any guides online to care for this as it’s only on a 1 gallon pot. When should I plant it?

    Reply
    • R David, the rule of thumb is you can still plant trees in the fall if trees growing around your neighborhood still have leaves. Ours in Austin are just starting to lose their leaves, so in SA, you might be ok to get it in the ground really quick.

      Reply
  17. Liked your article. Am now interested in buying some Monterrey oaks from a nursery near San Antonio, Tx. My Q: Is transporting young (6-7ft) trees in an open trailer for 250 miles in S. Texas during late November an issue? Any suggestions on minimizing the stress they (~50 trees) may receive during transport? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Raul. Thanks for your kind words. I think the trees would be fine; can you lay them down carefully on top of each other, so they’re not getting whipped by the wind? And what I want to know: who’re the lucky folks getting 50 of these beauties?!

      Reply
  18. Hello! I’m NW of Austin and have planted 3 of these beauties on my property near the Llano River. My first was recommended by my lawn man. He said to consider it for shade on my west side for shade! I immediately researched this white oak and found its many strong points. I have a huge nursery called Backbone Nursery outside of Marble Falls, Texas. This place is fabulous if you are in the area. They are online too! The owner put mevin a golf cart and drive me through the rows and rows of Monterey Oaks. Picking a beauty for my yard was hard as I loved so many. I did end up getting a 25 foot specimen which they delivered and planted for me. It’s doing well on the hot westside of my house! I do deep water in heat and lightly in dry season. It’s still rooting in my yard which I was told will take 3 seasons. Since planting this large white oak I have found 2 smaller ones at our home depot. They ran 49.00 each for 6-7 foot trees. I put one near my garage and the other on the South side of my property in hot full sun. They are doing great. I mulch them well and water as they are young and new. Give this tree a try if you live in a warmer zone. Its gorgeous and nearly evergreen! Enjoy.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the tip about the nursery near Marble Falls, Carol. Some friends of mine just moved out there and I’ll share the recommendation! I’m glad to hear your Monterrey Oaks are doing well! They’re such fabulous trees.

      Reply
  19. I planted five in my backyard in Nov. Right now they kinda have small “irrigation berm” rings around them composed of mixed up mulch and dirt. I honestly think the guy who planted them didn`t know what he was doing. because the mulch is mostly dirt the surrounding grass is starting to grow into it and I’m afraid the grass will steal water from the tree. I was hoping someone could tell me how newly planted white oaks in grass should be mulched? I was also wondering how much I should water and fertilize them. I just want to make sure my new tress are happy and healthy! THANKS!!!

    Reply
    • Wow, Curran! I’m jealous you have room for FIVE of these big beauties! You must have a bit piece of property! That is my dream! Haha! Anyway, we put a ring of landscape rock border around ours… about 4 feet out from trunks, and then put a 3-inch layer of Texas native mulch inside. We don’t let the grass encroach through the ring of rock edging. Keep us posted on how your trees progress! Post photos!

      Reply
      • Thank you so much for the advice. I think I’ll put in some elbow grease and make some mulch rings like yours with metal edging. The house we bought is south of San Antonio and has a 2 acre backyard but no trees! Trying to change that 🙂

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  20. I hate to be the barer of bad news. They have had the evidence of oak wilt in these trees for the last 2 years from samples we send….We have more labs & documentation to support not planting white oaks thinking they are resistant to oak wilt.

    Reply
      • Gretchen,
        Clean gardening practices such as painting cuts on all oaks are of course a great way to prevent infection by beetle and spore but experts such as Karen Rockoff and myself are principally seeing the infection and death of white oaks through the common inter-species grafting of these white oaks with other oak species. The increased usage of DNA testing will greatly assist in the updating of the Texas Forest Service’s education on frequency of grafting. They have already have made big changes in their position of various white oaks’ mortality and the public can expect more to come on numerous other aspects.

        Reply
  21. I buy mine at HEB Plus in New Braunfels. They are always in stock along with other native and drought resistant trees and plants. So happy HEB supports the local gardeners, they get it!

    Reply
    • Wow! How cool is that?! So handy to be able to pick up up a tree along with a gallon of milk. You’re lucky to have an HEB Plus, Tera. HEB and Whataburger make Texas, Texas, don’t they?

      Reply
  22. Does this tree thrive on the coastal area of Texas where we get extreme weather variations? Summers can be brutal here and winters very wet at times. Also during hurricane seasons we may even experience some flooding.

    Reply
    • I think it would do well down there, but I would check with your local extension agent for your particular area.

      Reply
  23. Can I buy a 30 gallon Monterey Oak, place it in a 60 gallon container, and then plant it in 2-3 years after it has grown?

    Or is it really hard to grow/keep
    alive in a container?

    Thanks!

    Jeff

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff – The best place for a large tree is in the ground. The best way to start one is by buying the smallest one available. Digging the hole is easier, and a small tree is much easier to root than a large one. The longer you keep a tree in a container, the harder it will be for it to transition to growing in the ground, and the harder it will be to physically do the job.

      Reply
  24. We bought a 10-ft Monterrey Oak about two years ago in San Antonio. It has grown a few feet in height … it’s now easily 15 feet high. However, it is very spindly and we have had to keep a stake on it to keep it from bending over and breaking. Is that normal for these trees? It gets full sun but is in pretty rocky soil. It seems like it is very top heavy with growth.

    Reply
    • The trunks of these trees will stay relatively narrow while they’re young, but what you’re noticing as “top-heaviness” might actually indicate a problem with the root structure. They can do well in rocky soil, but they’re sensitive to overwatering.

      Giving young trees an occasional shake is sometimes recommended by arborists, to help strengthen the roots, but staking isn’t usually advised. Though it might seem helpful, they will usually grow stronger without a stake, and straighten up naturally without the added support. Even gardeners who are proponents of staking young trees usually recommend removing them within about two years of planting.

      Reply
      • Thanks! We had a fellow who works with an arborist come out and look at it. He put it in a three-point stake system with wires (with cushioned loops around the tree). He also tied a bamboo stake to the trunk with velcro material to keep it from bending over again until the trunk grows a bit. It was bending over in the middle before.
         
        He’s concerned about the movement it has in the ground and said the roots may just be in a limestone bowl because our yard is so rocky. It was planted in a hole twice as wide as the root ball, though. I hope the roots will find a way . . .

        Reply
  25. Question: my Mexican white oak has black spots on the leaves, not all of the leaves. Should I be concerned?

    Reply
    • Can you share a photo, Samuel? What do the spots look like more specifically, and can you rub them off? You might have black sooty mold, which sometimes appears when you also have an infestation of insects like whiteflies. Or, you could have an issue with another type of fungal disease, like anthracnose or leaf spot.

      Reply
    • Hi Katina –

      The general rule of thumb for spacing plants is to allow at least enough room for their maximum width. So, for example, if you’re growing a large variety that grows to 40-feet wide, you should plant it at least 20 feet away from your home.

      Native to Texas Hill Country, the Lacey oak, Quercus laceyi, is an attractive tree for USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9 that may reach 35-feet tall and 30-feet wide. It tolerates heat and drought, and is quite resistant to pests and disease. It does best in alkaline soil that drains well. The leaves have a bluish tint that turns to shades of pink and gold in the fall. It grows slowly.

      Reply
  26. Hello, we built a new home in Salado and were very weary of Oak wilt so we purchased 5 Monterey Oak trees. The trees are doing great. We purchased 3 of the trees from HEB and 2 larger ones from Gates Nursery in Waco.

    Reply
    • Good to know there are some places out there that sell Mexican Oak, Darren, and that you’re happy with the ones you have. Thanks for taking the time to share the scoop.

      Reply
  27. Gretchen, We planted a 30-gallon white oak in east Austin in rocky soil. We have watered 2x/week since June, but the leaves continue to brown. Now the whole tree is brown and we have lost about half the leaves. Are we watering too much or not enough? Any other advice you can provide would be great.

    Reply
  28. im looking at planting a couple of these in my pflugerville yard on the side of the house to provide shade,the brock on that side gets super hot in summer from the direct sun.
    do I have enough room to plant these? Its 15 feet from the house to the property line

    Reply
    • These trees grow quickly and they may spread as much as 60 feet across the canopy when they are mature. Trunks of mature trees generally expand to only about 2 feet or so in diameter, but spacing with 20-30 feet of wiggle room at planting time is usually recommended – between trees and away from buildings.

      Assuming you don’t have a fence or some other structure that could get in the way on the property line, I’d recommend planting as far from the house as possible. But you do run the risk of having to remove the tree down the line if obstructing your neighbor’s property becomes a concern.

      Reply
  29. I live on Lake Conroe, 50 miles north of Houston. I’m looking for an oak to plant next to the lake (20 ft from the bulkhead). The soil has plenty of moisture from the lake but it is not soggy. The lake can rise to this area, rarely, and cover the yard for a few days. Would this tree do well in this environment?

    Reply
    • Steve, it’s not a good risk to grow Mexican Oak where the lake might cover its soil for a few days at a time. These fast-growers are susceptible to too much water, so much so that after they’re established you shouldn’t water them unless there has been a prolonged drought. The drought-tolerance is a great trait for other areas of Texas, just not for your situation.

      Reply
  30. Planted two of these an arborist gave me about 5 years ago in Northeast Texas, gumbo soil. Both were about a foot tall at the time. One is now about 4 foot tall and the other is about 2 foot tall. Not sure why the difference in growth rate. I wouldn’t call these very fast growers, at least not in my area. I will say they are evergreen here though, they never lose all of their leaves which is very nice. Love these trees, just wish they grew a little faster.

    Reply
    • Hello, KDZ. I’m glad you still love your trees, even if they aren’t living up to the “fast-growing” reputation. I did want to mention that one of the very few things that can slow their growth a little is growing in acidic soil. They really prefer a pH of about 7.5, and will tolerate more alkaline soil, too. You may want to test their soil? Or maybe just live with their slower growth rate. It’s up to you!

      Reply
  31. Leon Springs, Texas ~ I have three Mexican Oak trees that I planted six years ago. They are about 20’ tall and doing very well. We had 9” of snow this past week. Very unusual. The leaves look curled and yellow. Do you think my trees are going to survive? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello Shelly in Leon Springs. I was so sorry to hear about the Texas snowstorms that destroyed so much.

      I have high hopes for your 20′ trees. The more established trees are theoretically more able to survive these unforeseen weather events.

      For now, though, your best option is to wait and see. (Yes, that is literally my least favorite advice, but it is what it is!)

      The trees, or some portion of them, may very well leaf out again in the spring. At that time, you should prune any clearly dead branches. Give them a few months into spring to make a comeback before declaring them dead, okay?

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. Please check back in with any news.

      Reply
    • Hello Carmen Mathis!

      I am sorry to hear of the toll taken by that winter storm. For right now, only remove any branches that are clearly broken off. Then wait until spring to see if any portions of the trees produce new leaves. You never know!

      At that point, you should also prune away any attached branches that have clearly died. I am keeping my fingers crossed that parts of your trees are still alive.

      If not, I hope you are a fan of beginning again. But only if you live in the USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10, where they’re winter hardy. Otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble!

      Let us know if spring brings good news.

      Reply
  32. Last year Oncor offered us two free trees to plant on our property. I researched them all and decided on the White Oaks. I’m so excited to read all of this information! They were only about 18″ tall (very young saplings) so I planted them in pots so I could let them get a little larger before I put them in the ground. I don’t want my husband running over them with the tractor! Any suggestion on how tall they should be before we plant them?

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  33. Everything about this tree points to it being the same as what we have in our front yard and I hate it! The roots are popping to the top and I am relatively certain they will soon be causing issues with the irrigation system. The squirrels they draw have invaded our yard and are tearing up the flower beds. the acorns leave such a mess all over and the tiny twigs that blow down from the tree create even more mess in the yard. It is just intrusive!

    Reply
    • Hello Melinda. I appreciate you sharing the potential downside. I sure do wish there was a teleporter option to move your tree from a spot where it’s unwanted to a place where homeowners can’t find anywhere to purchase a Mexican White Oak. I hope you figure out a way to cope with it!

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  34. I am new to Houston and made the mistake of buying a house with almost no shade in the backyard. I know for me it may be hopeless, however, I want to have something planted in sell in 10 years. The issue I have is on the east side of my property line I have a pool. So my question, how far from a pool or other structure do you need to plant the Mexican White Oak?

    Reply
    • Hello Jarrett Gordon. You may be able to have that shade within 10 years! The Mexican White Oak does tend to grow very quickly, maybe a couple of feet each year. It would need to be planted about 15 feet from the pool or any foundations to avoid the roots damaging them, though. Good luck, keep us posted.

      Reply
  35. Would this tree survive the recent winter weather we had in Austin? Mine lost all it leaves during the winter weather and has not begun to bud out yet. I am concerned it may be dead!

    Reply
    • Hello Connie Morgan. You have my sympathies with the toll taken by that harsh winter. I do think we’re still in “wait and see” mode for your Mexican White Oak, though. Keep looking to see if any portions of the tree produces new leaves. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and please let us know how it goes.

      Reply
  36. I have a 6 year old 20’ tall Monterrey oak in North Texas. It lost its leaves for the first time after the horrible frigid cold blast this winter. Then it got new leaves this spring. In May it rained almost every day for 3 weeks. After that, the leaves started turning brown and now all the leaves have turned brown. New growth is growing at the base but no new growth on the limbs. Will my tree survive?

    Reply
    • Sorry to hear it, Debbie! Does the planting area have good drainage? And when you say the leaves have turned brown, did this start just at the tips? Are they curling, or falling off?

      After the damaging cold weather likely caused significant stress, it sounds like the flood rains could have led to fungal disease, particularly if the tree’s roots were growing in oversaturated soil for an extended period.

      New growth is a good sign that your tree is still alive, however, suckering at the base in combination with browning and curling leaves is a common sign of oak wilt disease. Unfortunately the fungus that causes it can spread easily, and this type of infection may be fatal. You can contact your local extension agent about sending samples for testing to confirm whether this or some other type of fungal disease is plaguing your tree, and determine whether it may recover or should be removed.

      Reply
  37. I’m thinking about planting one in my yard. How far away from the sidewalk or from my house should I plant it? I’m worried about my house’s foundation.

    Reply
    • Hello Blake Applegate. Glad you’re planning ahead. The rule of thumb is to plant Mexican White Oak about 15 feet from your house’s foundation to keep the roots from inflicting damage.

      You can probably get a bit closer to the sidewalk without worrying about root damage. But the trees do shed leaves, so consider if you want to keep up with removing them from foot traffic areas.

      Also remember the trees can reach 40 feet, so you’d want to plant them away from power lines. For me, though, the prospect of shade and a quick-growing, high quality tree is worth these location workarounds.

      Good luck, keep us posted.

      Reply

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