How to Grow Live Oak Trees


The live oak, or Quercus virginiana, is an evergreen, broadleaf tree that is commonly known as the Southern live oak. This large tree has a vigorous growth habit and can quickly reach heights up to 80 feet with a 120-foot spread. It produces rich green foliage with brown, inconspicuous spring flowers. The live oak is an adaptable tree with a high drought tolerance and can withstand most soil conditions.

Step 1

Choose a deep, well-drained planting location that receives at least eight hours of full sunlight each day. Make sure the location provides ample space for the mature-sized live oak. Select a location away from structures and free of underground septic systems.

Step 2

Plant your live oak tree in the early spring, just before the growing season begins. Dig up your selecting planting area and loosen any compacted soils. Dig a hole that is slightly wider than the spread of the root system, with a depth that is equivalent to the depth of the root system.

Step 3

Position your live oak tree in the center of the hole and gently spread the roots equally throughout. Fill the hole with soil while making sure all of the roots are covered with soil. Press the soil firmly around your live oak tree and irrigate it deeply to provide a good establishment.

Step 4

Irrigate your young live oak tree regularly, about once each week. Irrigate deeply to allow the lower lying roots to obtain water from the irrigation. Water your established live oak tree about once or twice per month with a deep irrigation. Increase the irrigation levels during the hot, dry summer months, as recommended by the University of Florida Cooperative Extension, to prevent drought stress and boring insect invasions.

Step 5

Protect your live oak tree from fungal diseases and infections. Keep the tree's area free of debris and defoliation. Treat the tree with a fungicidal spray in the early spring to reduce its susceptibility. Additionally, treat the live oak tree with an insecticide designed for oak trees.

Step 6

Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around your young live oak tree to protect soil moisture levels and reduce weed invasions. Keep the mulch at least 1 foot away from the trunk of the tree to prevent root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • University of Florida Extension: Quercus Virginiana: Southern Live Oak
  • Online Gardener: Live Oak in Texas
  • Floridata: Quercus Virginiana

Who Can Help

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Quercus Virginiana
Keywords: live oak care, live oak tree, growing live oak

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.