SAN ANTONIO - Despite the triple digit heat, the heat is actually good for one chore this summer; pruning oak trees and at the same time getting rid of ball moss!
Believe it or not, a ball moss is a plant. They grow on fences, on powerlines, and especially on our trees. Most tree experts say Ball Moss will not kill your tree, but you can clearly see the trees that have ball moss on them do not look very healthy.
So to set the record straight, I spoke with a tree expert to find out the truth behind these ball mosses.
"No, they do not kill the branches of the tree. The tree actually sheds out its own branches and kills them, but ball moss likes shady areas because it gets all its water from the air, and so it likes to be on the lower branches," explained Mark Peterson from the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) "It's just a coincidence that they're on dead branches."
Peterson is also an arborist, a horticulturist, and a community forester for the Texas Forest Service for the past 23 years. So he knows what he's talking about.
These lower branches die from lack of sunlight; not as a result of ball moss.
"It is not a health problem. It's an aesthetic problem," said Peterson.
The only way to get rid of them is by cutting off the dead branches, and right now is the best time to do that.
"The best time to cut is during the coldest time of the year - December and January - or the hottest part of the year - July, August, September," said Peterson. "Technically, you do not have to spray it, but if you're living in the city of San Antonio - yes - city ordinance requires you to do it."
Typically, you need to spray the tree's wounds to prevent the disease "Oak Wilt" from spreading. Use paint or spray paint -- anything to cover its wound, but when the temperature gets above 95 degrees or hotter, like now, it's too hot for the disease to survive.
And where's the best place to cut?
"We always cut at the junction between two branches," said Peterson.