Live Oak – Growing in North Georgia

Q: My husband heard your caller from Athens about trying to grow a live oak there. You said it would probably not live.

We have one in Braselton that is now 13+ years old and doing very well. It’s had some leaf frost damage a couple of times with temps in the teens, but it was just superficial. It’s helpful that it is in an area of our yard where it doesn’t get the worst of northeast winds.

A: I’ve consulted four tree experts and they concur: you have a live oak, Quercus virginiana.

Although it is Georgia’s state tree, most online resources say it thrives only in the lower South. Chris Heim, from Davey Tree, says “I have randomly seen them in the metro area. I’m sure it can survive for a period of time but I doubt it will thrive.”

The Agnes Scott College Arboretum in Decatur is home to a live oak near the Alston Campus Center.

Barry M. comments:  15 years ago I picked up some acorns from the Middleton Oak tree at Middleton Place Plantation, Charleston, SC. (it is said to be 900 years old). Anyway I had wondered if they would grow in Atlanta area (Henry County). I looked it up on the internet and some sources said that they would grow as far north as Kentucky.  I thought I would send you some pictures. The first picture is of the largest one that I planted first. The others I kept in a crowded nursery row for several years before I planted them down my driveway. They are a little smaller, but all seem to be doing very well. They have never shown any sign of suffering from the cold. They are planted out in the open and get exposure from all directions. Also through the years I have noticed others growing. A few larger trees here in Atlanta and Augusta areas, and quite a few in the Columbia, SC area. I saw two of them growing at the entrance of a tree farm in south Atlanta. All of these in the “upstate” or Piedmont areas grow with a very dense crown. Anyway, from my perspective they make a great evergreen tree. I am a little surprised that more people don’t use them.

Good luck to everyone experimenting with this tree!

Live Oak: Georgia’s Tree

Live Oak vs Laurel Oak Identification

Barry’s trees

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