How to plant, grow and make the most out of your Mexican white oak tree (Quercus Polymorpha)
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 because it is widely regarded as their trademark.
Widespread through Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, it has made its way to the Val Verde County of West 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 and 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.
History and Cultivation of Quercus polymorpha
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 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 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 tolerate diseases, so its maintenance won’t take up too much of your time.
Mexican White Oak: Propagation
Propagate 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 in stock year-round, you’ll likely find them available at least seasonally. You can also find Monterrey Oak seeds for sale online.
How to Plant and Grow Native 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 to avoid any transplant shock caused by hot temperatures. 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 it and ensure it’s wide enough; carefully fill the gap with the dirt you 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.
Add some fertilizer to give it a good start until its roots settle in; do not overwater as too much of it will cause root rot; however, too little water wall cause growth stagnation, and in some cases, the plant will wilt and die if it’s derived of water for extended periods. So be moderate as you water your newly planted Oak.
If you buy from a nursery, inspect what you’re buying, especially the area of its roots, for any signs of diseases. 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
When purchasing from a garden center, make sure you complete your research on the Mexican white oak. Hybrid trees are more susceptible to disease and insect attacks. So, gather as much information as possible to avoid receiving a subpar tree or defective seeds. Please also take some time investigating if this species can adapt to the environment you’re trying to plant it in and whether the temperatures and soil type are suitable.
Mexican oaks thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10, so double-check before you buy and start digging. Plant in the fall to give the roots warm soil and enough rain before the cold weather arrives. However, avoid the dry, hot months entirely.
After its roots settle and grow, regularly inspect your Mexican Oak to catch it 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 such as Oak wilt that beetles spread. And while Mexican Oaks are said to be resistant to this type of wilt.
Managing Pests and Diseases
An authentic Mexican white Oak (beware of hybrids, as mentioned) has an excellent chance of withstanding many common diseases and pests 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 typically withstand.
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.
Very helpful! Thank you! Great article with lots of helpful facts in an easy to read format.
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We planted a very young Monterrey Oak last year and it seemed to be doing well. After the freeze this winter and at this point in spring, the tree is covered in what I think are leaf buds all over the branches, but nothing has bloomed out. It has been in this phase for a couple month or more. Is there a reason we aren’t seeing the leaves?