Can live oaks be used as patio trees

Mesilla Park, NM

We just got two 7 ft Live Oaks in 15 gallon pots. It gets between 100 to 105 several times during the summer months so anything in pots dries up pretty fast. My concern is this, we bought them yesterday, they sat in full sun till this afternoon, and the leaves looked a little dry so we watered them and the water ran right out of one of the pots.

These trees are planted all over las cruces New Mexico and El Paso , TX. So they can obviously take some high temps. I don't know if they are on drip systems at all these businesses such as walmarts, Walgreens, SAMs, etc...but they seem to be hardy.

I don't want to lose these. Do I need to pot them up. Or planted in ground? Feed them, what to feed them.

The trees that did not last last spring were chitalpa trees the same size as these, I kept them in pots, fertilized weekly a liquid all purpose fertizer, but they dried up despite watering them every other day, maybe I drowned them.

These are the Live Oaks that we got yesterday. Thank you for your help.

Thumbnail by Gourd
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I don't know that much about Oak trees, but it sounds like they are pot bound and the water is running around the outside of the soil and out before it waters the plants. I would get them out of the pots as soon as you can, but don't know about in that heat.

You know, I just looked at them again and they don't look like Oak trees to me. What kind of Oaks are they?

Where are you going to plant them? Guess you should get advice from someone who lives there. I don't know how long it is going to be that hot and what you should do with them before you can get them out of the pots.

Rather than run the hose in them, I would figure a way to give them water slowly and steady. Better talk to someone in your area.

suburban K.C., MO(Zone 6a)

You have probably seen they get very big, much too big for a pot for very long.

Mesilla Park, NM

Oh I should have done more research before buying these, you see them everywhere here in all the parking lots and they never seem to grow, so I assumed they didn't get big. I guess they just grow very slowly. They are normally really short and trimmed roundish in appearance .

Ill take some photos of some in town this week. I found one that is about the norm in size for around here. Maybe they are dwarf oaks, but insure didn't know dwarf oaks existed. Boy am I in trouble because we have no room for anything the size they get to. It would probably not fit in between the pecan trees we have.

Ill be calling the nursery webgot them at and hope they exchange them for us if I can't figure this out.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

I don't see why you can't prune like what the nursery has done. I'd pot them up into larger pots with trays (so it doesn't mark your patio) and don't water them so heavily. They'll rot. Not so much fertilizer either. You might want to mist the foliage in the evening or early morning so they absorb it that way. I'd say you're fine if you pot them up. Just creatively prune them as they grow.

Mesilla Park, NM

Thank you growin, I was thinking of pruning the tips and cleaning up the main stems. What size of pot should I look for? I water too much that's for sure.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

Well, if I was doing this on that patio, I'd get a nice ceramic that is larger than the 15 gallon nursery pots that goes with the decor. You've already got the nice blue that contrasts nicely with the tile and back wall. Why not a tall burnt red. Think about under-planting the Oak with annuals so give it a bit of room to plant. When you transplant, look closely at the root system to make sure it's not circling too much. Use some decent landscaper soil.

I also over-water, although, it must be expensive to do that in NM.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I think these trees should be planted in the ground. You will not be able to keep a tree that large alive in a pot for too many years unless you don't care if they die. It is not a tree's natural tendency to grow in a pot. In regards to the water running right out of the pot, it sounds like the roots are so compacted that they have trouble absorbing water. If these are in full sun in 100+ degree weather, you will definitely need to water them daily. Overall, I think it's a bad idea to keep them in pots for an extended period of time, maybe the rest of the summer but I would definitely get them in the ground in the fall.

I looked up your area and my resource says Mesilla gets 8.4 inches of rain a year. I can only assume that if you plant these in the ground they will have to be on irrigation.

Mesilla Park, NM

Thank you all for this invaluable information. We do have a well, we have about 15 trees pecan and apple trees on a drip system in the fron section of the one acre. Then those trees are lined with 6 or 7 full grown summer pines. We do have a couple of spaces where some cherry trees or plum trees have died with this heat, but the Live oaks would just get too argue to put them in this area.

If they get this large, why are the ones at these shopping malls nd stores stay so small? I wonder if they prun them to stay small or if there is a smaller variety.

Gosh did I mess up royally here. I like little trees that I can prune myself, I hate to tell DH this one.

Thank you for the advice, I have to see hat I can do, maybe see if the nursery will exchange them for me. Believe me I have tried palo verdes, the one without thorns, I don't want the one with thorns, the one without thorns die down but come back each year. I also try to get nice but hardy natives and put in two Texas laurels they grow pretty slow too.

Anybody have any other suggestions for this area? Market umbrellas are probably what we will have to settle on.

We built lots of arches, nothing overhead.. But now we are done with the hardscape, and continue to put in the landscaping.

Thumbnail by Gourd Thumbnail by Gourd Thumbnail by Gourd Thumbnail by Gourd Thumbnail by Gourd
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Now wait a minute, Gourd, I thought you were on the East coast or back there somewhere. How long have you been out here? Just curious.

Ok, Oak Trees. There are many kinds of Oaks. I have always wanted a couple of Pin Oaks. Now, those are probably the ones they have on the parking strips you are talking about. Or a version like them. Look in Plant files and see if they show different kinds. Does yours say the specific kind of Oak?

The Pin Oaks like the ones I wanted get about maybe 15 to 20 feet tall, they have kind of long skinny leaves and they turn all colors too.

Now go look at tags on the trees. Then look in Plant Files for them and read about them before you get too excited.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Gourd, after you look at the tag and see what kind you have, forget about the Plant Files in here. Go to this link:

That first tree grows between 60 and 150 feet tall. First example. But those are what they make furniture out of.


Mesilla Park, NM

We have been here 7 years. Lol, and the tag says Live Oak. Prior to this area we lived in Southern California for 10 years, before that , back in this general area. I don't know why you thought East Coast. Never been there not even visiting.

Mesilla Park, NM

The description here might be what I am seeing. Growing in low brush areas, they grow bush like? I have seen them like the one in that photo but it has been years that they remain the same size, maybe they just grow extremely slow.

suburban K.C., MO(Zone 6a)

I'd take them back for a refund or credit. Everybody has bought plants on impulse. If I had a dollar for every plant that I bought that died, I'd be rich! You just bought them 2 days ago, I'd ask about getting credit at the very least.
They misled you for the money, boy, if you even mentioned the words "patio tree" they ought to be ashamed of themselves.
I've never heard of a Live Oak living in a pot, or any Oak. I too have seen "mature" size large trees in landscaping and parking lots, I'm quite sure they'll get cut down eventually, they'll get too big and die or tear up the parking lot or whatever is there. I remember seeing Bur Oaks here in an IHOP parking lot in their little dirt strips. I'm sure most people think they look cool but anybody who knows the tree knows it's ridiculous. It pretty much boils down to doing anything for a dollar.
I saw that link's info. that you posted, unless your patio and pot is a scrub area, I think you got a tree, not a low-growing shrub. That was just a lame attempt at humor! : )
Could it be Texas Live Oak labeled as just Live Oak out of nursery habit? Texas Live Oak, (Quercus fusiformis) is a different tree. - , it's a smaller tree than regular Southern Live Oak commonly just called Live Oak.
I saw your other pics, nice designs and arrangements for the NM. landscape, your doing the landscape and environment good. I heard that NM. doesn't really have much soil just this formerly volcanic ground material instead, I think that would make for some challenging gardening.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Live oaks (Quercus virginiana)are large evergreen oaks. (Jnette we don't have them here they grow in the south)They get absolutely enormous, but maybe in desert New Mexico they get stunted. Check out this link!,_Rockport

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Oh and they have a tap root, so I doubt they would be suited to growing in a pot.

Mesilla Park, NM

Thanks guys, the nursery said they would take them back, so we are loading them up in a few minutes. I really got a good lesson out of this one and will most likely give up on patio trees.. And stick to another idea that may work here, a small arbor gazebo type for some shade ..

It is an adventure trying to make things happen, sometimes I need to learn when to back off and check other avenues.

Thank you all,

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

antoinette, I wouldn't give up on a tub patio tree if that is what you want. There are many many trees you could get. Do they have to be evergreen? Did you query patio trees? Do a little research and decide what you want. I have a dwarf green lace leaf maple in a tub and just love it. I had my choice at Lowes last year between that and red ones. Took the green. Right now it is in the shade or I would send you a picture.

I love tree roses on the patio. That would look nice. Please look around and let us know what you do.

Yes, mlm, I have seen those oaks in the South, Georgia to be specific, and they are gorgeous. Absolutely lovely. Their branches are as big as their trunks. Makes you wonder how they stay upright. Or don't break off.


suburban K.C., MO(Zone 6a)

Glad to hear it, Gourd. I didn't mean to sound so nasty or make it sound like there aren't any patio trees, there are lots. I just meant they oughta be ashamed for selling you Live Oaks for the patio. There, you could probably be choosy on a fruiting tree for the patio even, maybe an Orange tree or a lemon or lime tree, (it might be too dry there for them, I don't know). I'm not sure of your zone there, I know it can vary with the elevation, precip. and desert conditions in NM., but there are probably many options for you on patio trees, more than here, where it snows.

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