We have received quite a few questions this spring about live oaks dropping their leaves. Sometimes the leaf drop is so severe that a tree appears almost leafless. While live oaks are sometimes considered an evergreen plant they do naturally shed their leaves in the spring in preparation for the onset of new growth. So leaf drop in the spring is usually due to natural causes and is not generally a cause for concern.
Trees often vary in the amount or degree of defoliation they exhibit. Some live oaks drop almost all their leaves before new growth appears while others growing nearby may hold their leaves longer making the transition into the new growth more smoothly. These differences may be genetic since most live oaks are grown from seedlings, or due to stresses such as girdling roots and soil differences in the site.
If trees are losing leaves throughout the year and the canopy is growing thinner and does not put on new foliage following spring leaf drop then your trees are likely suffering from other stress factors. In such cases it is best to seek the assistance of a professional arborist. To find a certified arborist on your zip code go to the International Society of Arboriculture’s Find An Aborist page.
For more information check out the Texas Plant Clinic web site on spring live oak leaf drop.