How to plant, grow and make the most out of your Mexican white or Monterrey oak tree
Also known as the Netleaf White Oak or Quercus polymorpha if you’re feeling fancy, the Mexican White or Monterrey Oak is native to the Monterrey mountains of Mexico. The official name of the Netleaf White Oak is Mexican Oak. However, Monterrey Oak is a name given to it by the Lone Star Growers of San Antonio, the reason it’s widely regarded as their trademark. Widespread through Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, it has made its way to the Val Verde County of Texas. It has recently become popular with tree-planting enthusiasts in the South because of its growth rate, semi-evergreen appearance, and resilient qualities.
Adaptable, resistant to drought, pests, and diseases, you can’t go wrong with planting a Mexican White Oak in your backyard. It will be around to provide you with shade and fresh air for a long time with minimal maintenance.
Mexican White Oak: Characteristics, History, and Cultivation
The Mexican Oak is a large tree but medium-sized compared to other types of Oak. It can reach heights of up to 60 feet wide and it can mature to a height of about 40 feet tall. Its bark is dark brown or gray and rough when it reaches maturity. Its dark-green leaves are usually 5 to 7 inches long, and its crown grows full and round.
The Monterrey Oak was first spotted and identified in the US in Texas 30 years ago. However, the only place where it grows naturally is along the Devil’s River near Dolan Falls in Val Verde County.
Horticulturist Lynn Lowrey said in 1995 that “Quercus polymorpha could almost be considered a native Texas tree. The Sierra Madre Oriental grows in Mexico in a swath cutting South from about 90 miles Southwest of Laredo to past Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. Acorns were first collected South of Monterrey, Mexico, in 1970, and now trees planted in Houston and San Antonio are quite large.”
The Monterrey Oak does well in any soil. Even in clay or well-drained sandy soils. It does well in the sun and partial shade, and it can grow as much as 24 inches in one season. This plant adapts well to both urban and rural landscapes, and, depending on how gentle the weather is, it can keep its leaves year-round. You may also catch sight of some yellow-green flowers on your Mexican Oak around April if you look close enough.
Although it can make it through freezing temperatures, low temperatures in the Northern parts of the US may be too much for the Mexican Oak to handle. In addition, freezing or freeze damage is a risk in areas where thermometers don’t rise above 32 degrees Fahrenheit for days or weeks at a time.
You don’t want to over-water this type of Oak once you plant it. It prefers medium amounts of water as any other Oak would. But once it’s settled into its new home, the Monterrey Oak will do well with drought and wilt diseases, so its maintenance won’t take up too much of your time.
Mexican White Oak: Propagation
Do the propagation of the Mexican Oak by planting its acorns. If you’re looking to buy, you can find some specialized garden centers that offer this variety of Oak for sale. Although a few have them on stock year-round, you’ll likely find it available at least seasonally. You can also find Monterrey Oak seeds for sale online. Or try seed-swapping websites to also get more information from other Mexican Oak growers.
How to Plant and Grow Your Own Mexican Oak
Your chances of growing a spectacular, tall, leafy wonder are high when choosing a Netleaf White Oak. This species is tolerant of deep and thin soils, sun, and shade. It can take low temperatures, droughts and resist diseases. Plus, it doesn’t care if the soil is neutral or alkaline.
To start well, you’ll need to make sure you schedule your Mexican Oak planting mission nowhere close to any hot months like July, August, or September. So avoid any transplant shock caused by hot temperatures.
You’ll be getting plenty of exercises when you decide to add a new tree to your landscape. So, hot summer months are not so great for such activity.
The hole you dig for the new Oak needs to be the same depth as the root ball but very wide.
If you buy your Mexican Oak from a nursery, it will most likely come with instructions. Check them to see what they recommend regarding the depth and width of the hole and the care and maintenance recommendations.
Once the hole is ready, place the Oak in the middle of the hole. Then, carefully fill the gap back with the dirt you just dug out. Gently press on the soil to remove any excess air, but don’t get over-zealous. Keep the root collar over the line of the ground.
You won’t need to add fertilizer if you’re planting it in areas where it knows the environment, like Texas. Otherwise, add some fertilizer to give it a good start until its roots settle in.
Next, you’ll want to watch out not to give it too much water, but not too little either. So be moderate as you water your newly planted Oak.
If you buy from a nursery, make sure you inspect what you’re buying and inspect the roots. You can do this by taking the plant out of the pot and checking for any signs of damage.
Tips for Growing a Strong Mexican Oak
Make sure you do your homework about the Mexican white Oak when buying from a garden center. Hybrid trees are more prone to diseases and insect damage. So, try to get as much information as possible to avoid getting a sub-standard tree or bad seeds. Also, please spend some time researching whether this species can get accustomed to the environment you’re trying to plant it in and whether the temperatures and the soil type are ideal.
Mexican Oaks will do best in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10, so check that before you buy and start digging. Plan the planting for fall to give the roots warm soil and plenty of rain to grow before lower temperatures hit. If your area doesn’t have that problem, you’ll have more options of when to plant your Mexican Oak. But, avoid droughty, hot months altogether.
After its roots settle and grow, regularly inspect your Mexican Oak to catch early and stay on top of any disease or insect damage.
Pruning and Maintenance
Your Mexican White Oak will require more of your attention when it’s young. Mature trees, like mature people, require less maintenance.
Helping your tree grow means monitoring any signs of trouble and doing your best to provide it with water, care and trimming.
Some simple tips for pruning your Mexican Oak are:
- Choose the right season
- Use sharp tools
- Don’t cut off over 25% of the branches
That said, the best time to prune Netleaf White Oaks is definitely in winter when there are little to no insects spreading disease. The tree also has fewer leaves, so you’ll find it easier to do the trimming.
In spring, Oak trees are more likely to get diseases like Oak wilt that beetles spread. And while Mexican Oaks are said to be resistant to this type of wilt, you won’t want to test that theory once you’ve worked so hard to plant and grow it.
Managing Pests and Diseases
An authentic Mexican white Oak (beware of hybrids as mentioned) has an excellent chance of withstanding many common diseases among other types of oak-like oak wilt. We say that because Monterrey Oaks have proved to be more resistant than other species like Red Oak, even in Oak wilt-infested areas. And research confirms it.
To get the most out of your tree and nurture it to live a long and healthy life in your back (or front) yard, you’ll need to make sure it gets enough water. It also needs to be trimmed correctly and regularly inspected for pests or signs of sickness.
The only troubles your Mexican Oak may face are occasional powdery mildew or spring oak worms. But they cause minimal damage, and the tree will solve those problems by itself.
Low maintenance, and even better, its self-maintenance abilities are just a few of the features that will make you fall in love with this tree.
Frequently Asked Questions.
How fast does a Mexican white oak tree grow?
This 70-foot-tall gem is a fast grower, reaching that height in just a few years. So look forward to your home being dwarfed by this newly planted sapling’s rapid growth rate of up to four feet each year!
Do Mexican white oaks lose their leaves?
Being semi-evergreen implies that it will not lose its foliage in the wintertime but instead sheds and regrows its leaves in the spring.
How tall are Mexican White Oaks?
Mexican White Oaks will, within a few years, grow up to a 70-foot-tall treasure and will have grown to its full potential.
Do Mexican white oaks have acorns?
Monterrey Oaks have rough bark, long oblong leaves, and medium-sized acorns.