Do Coastal Live Oaks Grow During Winter?

Africanherbman

Sapling
Messages
30
Reaction score
8
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I know that Coast Live Oaks will keep its foliage during winter, but do they also continue to grow? I live in San Francisco, so our winters are very mild and will likely never reach freezing. If they do continue to grow, should I continue fertilization?
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
10,596
Reaction score
21,501
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
8a
No they don't. They are mostly dormant in winter and summer.. Their first big push of growth is in spring followed by a second push in fall after the heat of summer is past. Generally I don't fertilize when a tree is not actively growing.
 

BrianBay9

Omono
Messages
1,811
Reaction score
2,976
Location
Marina, CA
USDA Zone
10a
No they don't. They are mostly dormant in winter and summer.. Their first big push of growth is in spring followed by a second push in fall after the heat of summer is past. Generally I don't fertilize when a tree is not actively growing.

I agree they aren't putting out new growth from about late Nov to early Feb in the SF Bay area or near me at the Monterey Bay. But I believe they are still photosynthesizing, and storing food in the trunk and roots. The roots should still be growing as long as temps are above about 50 F, and that includes my entire winter. So I still fertilize lightly through the winter.

I live in the sweet spot for coast live oak with forests of them next door. I get at least three pushes of new growth during the year, sometimes four. Spring push, another around the summer solstice, then fall. But then again, my place doesn't ever get really hot.
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,396
Reaction score
8,434
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
I fell in LOVE with these trees on my recent travels.

I’m very sad that I cannot grow them in my climate..

VERY..

sad.

🤪
Do you have space for a little hoop house or a cold frame? I have some west coast oaks that are not winter hardy here and keep them in a cold frame. I have not lost any yet and 2 years have gone by.

Spaz to your heart's content. You are more alive than most people here, self included.
 

HorseloverFat

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
7,225
Reaction score
10,278
Location
Northeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
Do you have space for a little hoop house or a cold frame? I have some west coast oaks that are not winter hardy here and keep them in a cold frame. I have not lost any yet and 2 years have gone by.

Spaz to your heart's content. You are more alive than most people here, self included.
I have several options for “cold frames.. 3 of varying degrees of intensity.. I’m excited to hear they survive those environments.. probably some of the neatest trees I’ve ever observed
 

Sadrice

Seedling
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Location
Napa County, California
USDA Zone
9
@HorseloverFat

As a Californian I find this whole thing kinda amusing. They are beautiful trees, one of my favourite native species, but they are common to the point of being weedy. Specifically, squirrels love to plant them in all of my potted plants and I spend a reasonable amount of time yanking out oak seedlings.

About five years ago at a bonsai fair I was at a training and pruning workshop by a local expert and a member of the audience asked about coast live oak. The expert expressed some vague disgust for the whole species and made a comment along the lines of “the best pruning decision would be the compost bin”.

I was vaguely offended on behalf of the species, I really like them. Nice to learn that people in other places also admire them.
 

RKMcGinnis

Shohin
Messages
376
Reaction score
369
Location
Canton, Georgia
USDA Zone
7a
Do you have space for a little hoop house or a cold frame? I have some west coast oaks that are not winter hardy here and keep them in a cold frame. I have not lost any yet and 2 years have gone by.

Spaz to your heart's content. You are more alive than most people here, self included.
Is your cold frame on the ground? All the trees I grow handle my winters in north ga fine. But my first year sapling mutant Japanese maples I grow do not grow robust rooting systems. I have a few I would be sad to see die because I didn’t protect them. I was thinking about using lights in the basement that stays in the upper 40’s during winter. But from what I have been reading a cold frame dug into the ground might work well. Trying to figure it out before it starts freezing lol
 

BrianBay9

Omono
Messages
1,811
Reaction score
2,976
Location
Marina, CA
USDA Zone
10a
@HorseloverFat

As a Californian I find this whole thing kinda amusing. They are beautiful trees, one of my favourite native species, but they are common to the point of being weedy. Specifically, squirrels love to plant them in all of my potted plants and I spend a reasonable amount of time yanking out oak seedlings.

About five years ago at a bonsai fair I was at a training and pruning workshop by a local expert and a member of the audience asked about coast live oak. The expert expressed some vague disgust for the whole species and made a comment along the lines of “the best pruning decision would be the compost bin”.

I was vaguely offended on behalf of the species, I really like them. Nice to learn that people in other places also admire them.

Commonly found is hardly a reason to reject a species. Elms, junipers and maples are common too.

That said, coast live oak have some issues you have to manage. Collected specimens can have spectacular trunks and they're easy to collect, so I wouldn't bother with anything less than a great trunk. The foliage can get kind of ratty so sometimes you have to defoliate and start over. They are susceptible to lots of pests and disease at least throughout their native range. They have 20 - 30 insect pests and double that disease of leaf, stem and root (chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fs.fed.us%2Fpsw%2Fpublications%2Fdocuments%2Fpsw_gtr197%2Fpsw_gtr197.pdf&clen=3912634&chunk=true). They also have an annoying habit of dropping a limb you need in the design, apparently without cause.

Personally I think they're worth it.
 

HorseloverFat

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
7,225
Reaction score
10,278
Location
Northeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
Is your cold frame on the ground? All the trees I grow handle my winters in north ga fine. But my first year sapling mutant Japanese maples I grow do not grow robust rooting systems. I have a few I would be sad to see die because I didn’t protect them. I was thinking about using lights in the basement that stays in the upper 40’s during winter. But from what I have been reading a cold frame dug into the ground might work well. Trying to figure it out before it starts freezing lol
I have a cement-pit... and an above ground unit.. All, this year (including west ACCESS to the pit), will be framed in a “lean-to” -style MONSTROSITY of a wooden tent..
 

Wulfskaar

Chumono
Messages
507
Reaction score
677
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
10a
Only one that I collected last fall has survived and it's a twig, basically. I plan to collect a few larger ones within the next month or two, hoping to get a specimen that is a few years more advanced than my one twig and the several I've been growing from acorns. I'm looking forward to getting better at working the Coast Live Oaks because we have millions of them here. In my last walk in the local park, I found a Valley Oak as well, so I plan on acquiring that one too.
 

John P.

Chumono
Messages
501
Reaction score
741
Location
Laguna Beach, CA, USA
USDA Zone
10a
We have coast oaks all around us here in Laguna Beach. There are some microclimates on the 133 (“the canyon”) that will hit freezing overnight in the winter sometimes. All to say that they’re pretty tough.

As frustrated as I get with acer palmatums, I’m so glad that the quercus that I have are happy here. They are really interesting trees to grow.
 

Scrogdor

Mame
Messages
144
Reaction score
63
Location
Oakland, CA
USDA Zone
10A
Commonly found is hardly a reason to reject a species. Elms, junipers and maples are common too.

That said, coast live oak have some issues you have to manage. Collected specimens can have spectacular trunks and they're easy to collect, so I wouldn't bother with anything less than a great trunk. The foliage can get kind of ratty so sometimes you have to defoliate and start over. They are susceptible to lots of pests and disease at least throughout their native range. They have 20 - 30 insect pests and double that disease of leaf, stem and root (chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fs.fed.us%2Fpsw%2Fpublications%2Fdocuments%2Fpsw_gtr197%2Fpsw_gtr197.pdf&clen=3912634&chunk=true). They also have an annoying habit of dropping a limb you need in the design, apparently without cause.

Personally I think they're worth it.
I was actually noticing this about ALOT of coast live oak pre-bonsai/specimens I was looking at. They all had at least one random dead branch in an area with no visible damage to it.
 

Sadrice

Seedling
Messages
9
Reaction score
14
Location
Napa County, California
USDA Zone
9
Commonly found is hardly a reason to reject a species. Elms, junipers and maples are common too.

That said, coast live oak have some issues you have to manage. Collected specimens can have spectacular trunks and they're easy to collect, so I wouldn't bother with anything less than a great trunk. The foliage can get kind of ratty so sometimes you have to defoliate and start over. They are susceptible to lots of pests and disease at least throughout their native range. They have 20 - 30 insect pests and double that disease of leaf, stem and root (chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fs.fed.us%2Fpsw%2Fpublications%2Fdocuments%2Fpsw_gtr197%2Fpsw_gtr197.pdf&clen=3912634&chunk=true). They also have an annoying habit of dropping a limb you need in the design, apparently without cause.

Personally I think they're worth it.
The branch dieback is a thing in the wild as well. I think it’s mostly a matter of the tree’s adaptations to changing its architecture over time. Young live oaks are scrubby shrubby plants, with very dense branching, while the big old ones have beautiful open branching on the interior of the canopy with a dense exterior.

As they develop, they regularly shed major branches, seemingly as a part of healthy growth, to open up the interior architecture and give space for the remaining branches to fill out.

I’m not certain this tendency will go away in a bonsai context where you are already maintaining the architecture for it.
 

Wulfskaar

Chumono
Messages
507
Reaction score
677
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
10a
The branch dieback is a thing in the wild as well. I think it’s mostly a matter of the tree’s adaptations to changing its architecture over time. Young live oaks are scrubby shrubby plants, with very dense branching, while the big old ones have beautiful open branching on the interior of the canopy with a dense exterior.

As they develop, they regularly shed major branches, seemingly as a part of healthy growth, to open up the interior architecture and give space for the remaining branches to fill out.

I’m not certain this tendency will go away in a bonsai context where you are already maintaining the architecture for it.
This gives me hope that my BIG one doesn't come crashing down any time soon.

There are several branches that are each a very large tree in their own right and they would do some damage if they broke.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom