Dan Gill, The Times-Picayune garden columnist Published Feb 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Updated Jul 17, 2019 at 2:22 pm Published Feb 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Updated Jul 17, 2019 at 2:22 pm

QUESTION: I have a live oak tree that loses most of its leaves every winter. In spring, they grow back. I have not ever fertilized. Is this the problem? Is it something I can do myself or must I pay a professional? -- George Wilson

ANSWER: The loss of leaves from your oak tree is not related to soil fertility. Many live oaks drop some or most of their leaves in February or early March, and then rapidly regrow a new crop of leaves within a few weeks.

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Some live oaks drop more leaves than others, and there is considerable variation from year to year.

Even when a live oak tree drops most of its leaves, it"s leafless for such a short period of time we tend to think of them as evergreen. Regardless, there is no need for concern.

If your oak drops all of its leaves in early to mid-winter and stays leafless for several months, I would suspect it"s not a live oak but one of the more deciduous oak species.

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You may fertilize the tree yourself, and now is an excellent time to do so. You can use a general-purpose fertilizer, tree fertilizer or tree fertilizer spikes following label directions.