to those who've grown Scarlet Oak from seed...

hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)April 24, 2014

I saw a while back that one of you (Arktrees, maybe) had grown some Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) from seed.

I have 8 little Q. coccineas growing right now. All seem pretty healthy, and the first set of leaves is almost full sized. They're moving along slowly due to the rather coolish weather, but seem happy. One is a bit weaker, thanks to the damned cat chewing 2 of its four leaves, but it seems OK so far. One leaf was completely lost, the other is about one-third still there and continuing to grow.

One odd thing is the number of initial leaves - most have 4, a couple have 5, and the tallest one has six.

In your experience, does that vigor continue on through the tree's young life?

Also - how many "flushes" of growth should I expect this year? Even Scarlet Oaks as large as 3" caliper around here usually do 2 flushes (one at leaf-out, and one in early June) per growing season, as long as it's not too dry. I've even seen mature ones flush a second time if we have a moist early summer.

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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

It has been my experience that whatever a species typically does in season when say 12', does not apply during the first growing season from seed. So in the this case while 2 flushes/year is the usual, the seedlings I grew a few years ago basically grew all season. By fall they were roughly 20", but it varied from seedling to seedling. As for growth after the first season, not certain. Though I would say I would bet a faster growing seedling is more likely to be faster growing, than a slow growing seedling speeding up and becoming fast. I would not feel confident in making predictions on that until at least after the third season.

Main thing is to keep them well watered (but very well draining), and good nutrient supply, but not excessive. Don't forget plenty of sun. You want them to grow nicely but not extreme or spindly from too much fertilizer. Excellent growth adds leaf surface, which equals more photosynthesis, equals more reserves for next year. Too fast growth uses those possible reserves for stem growth without enough compensating additional leaf area.

As for the seedlings I posted about here before, I have little follow up info for various reasons, so I can't help you with those specifically.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:51AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)


The one tree you kept - is it still alive and kicking? I seem to recall you said it was.

I keep them moist but they're in a modified version of Al's 5-1-1 mix (mostly fine pine bark) as discussed over on the Container Gardening forum, so they also drain very well. They are in rootmaker air pruning cells.

They get about 5 hrs/day of sun, but that is increasing as the sun gets higher in the sky as spring progresses and the sun starts getting high enough to clear some pines and now leafing out oaks shading some of the afternoon sun. By early May the area should be in sun from about 8:45 am until around 4pm. Right now it's more like 9am - 2pm.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:08AM
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I can give a little follow up for two of his seedlings. Both of them have flushed twice a year since he gave them to me as 1 year old seedlings. One has been constantly attacked by some bug/critter and has had really had a battle getting a leader to assert dominance. The other was deer pruned the first year in the ground but other wise healthy.They haven't grown much; maybe 1' both years combined but it takes things about 3 years to get rooted in well enough in my sandy soil to start putting on good growth.

Metasequoia has only grow about 4" per year in my yard after a couple years. This year, it has already surpassed that mark. Same for an acer triflorum Ark also gifted to me.

So not real helpful lol

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:21PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I saw your post about the Metasequoias not growing fast for you - maybe this year that will change.

I also have some Q. michauxii - the ones I started inside in January have adapted to part-sun outdoors without any leaf burn, but they have stalled out. I did up-pot them to a 1 gallon Smart Pot, so maybe once they root into the new pot better they will start growing. They're already about a foot tall, however. I also have a few that I just planted w/the Scarlets that are a bit behind the scarlets, but also doing well.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:09PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I do still have the one, and it is still kicking, but I think it took some root damage a couple years ago when I left it outside in winter. It is starting to grow now, and I really need to repot or find a perm home for it. It was originally going to family, but after their care of the first ones...... well I reconsidered.

Be aware that even with the nice first year growth, it is part of their natural biology to spend the first few years developing a more extensive root system, as Q coccinea habitat is mostly dry areas on ridge tops. After a few years they are likely to increase their growth rate assuming good conditions otherwise. It is also common for them not to maintain a central leader for the first few years as well. Which suggest John's trees will kick it in gear soon. This kind of info can be found in the link below


Here is a link that might be useful: Scarlet Oak

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:35PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

What's odd is, I've seen how most young Q. coccinea are zig zaggy in shape (when under 5' tall) with no leader, yet more mature trees are almost pyramidal with nice, straight lower trunks. Of course when they get even older, they get ragged (in a nice way IMHO) as well.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:45PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

If I can locate my lost smartphone (I had it one minute - sat it down to help my son, came back, POOF! gone the next)...I'll post some updated pics.

I noticed an interesting phenomenon - all but one have red-tinged new growth, the other one does not - the new growth is fuzzy but yellow-green, and then darkens to a darker green. The reddish ones end up about the same color of green once the leaves mature.

Will that be any sort of indicator regarding fall color?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:46AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Main thing is to keep them well watered (but very well draining), and good nutrient supply, but not excessive.


devils advocate here .....

==>> dont tell that to the rogue oak seedlings in my mineral sand.. that dont ever get watered.. and often get sprayed with round up.. and still wont die ... lol .. come on over.. if you want a couple hundred ...

i cant even comprehend how potting media could wear out.. and they would need fert????

how about in fall ... you put one or two.. directly in mother earth.. and see how they compare.. pot to soil ... during next year ... you can always reharvest them back to pots in a year or two ....

i am sure... peeps who grow them by the bazillions for industry ... hyperfert them to maintain fast growth ... but on the other hand.. why would you need the same ..???

i guess my point.. is to not think of them as annuals/perennials... what one might call heavy feeders ... they simply arent ... and i suspect.. you could do more harm with excess.. than you could do without ...

heck.. these things probably dont even need to be watered... but for the pot itself .. which if kept out of sun.. could be mostly bone dry all the time ...

finally, as seedlings ... its main work is root growth.. its kind of irrelevant.. how tall they end up ... dont you think???

just dont love them to death ... trees.. on some level.. probably prefer abject neglect.. and i am good at that.. lol ...


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:57AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Why would I not maximize growth like a nursery, if I can do so? I'm not getting any younger.

Now if your argument is that, aside from some extra growth the first couple years, there isn't any real difference over time, then you may be right about that.

Trees in the ground don't "need" fertilizer, unless your soil is specifically deficient in something or other (pretty rare but does happen), but it doesn't mean they won't grow better in response in certain cases, at least.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:33AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I have to water EVERYDAY in summer. Evapotranspiration reaches 1/3-1/2 daily in the peak of summer here in sun. If plants in pots are not watered daily, they will be seriously damaged the second day or dead. And since daily water is required, this also flushes nearly all nutrients out of the media. Therefore frequent fertilization is required to maintain nutrient levels. In fall, I do not fertilize and watering slows down to as needed. In fall some are planted as I give them away, but others are held over, some potted up, some into the garage for winter protection. But come spring, those I still have, get a shot of fertilizer for the again depleted nutrients, and the cycle starts anew.

BTW, the picture you have posted of you soil is not a infertile as you think. That layer on top of the sand is rich in organic matter (and therefore nutrients) and as you have observed, that is where the roots are for most of the plants.

Lastly, I like good looking plants. Roots got to be good too, but if I can have a more lush healthy plant with fertilizer, due to poor soil, then that is what I will do. I know for a fact our sugar maples and freeman maples are much larger and full than they would have been otherwise. Our Autumn Fantasy Maple has 3-4X the volume and 2X as tall, and much wider, as that of a neighbors that was planted at the same time and nearly the same size. Our tree is at about 7.5-8" caliper now, theirs is about 2.5-3". I have a shaded back yard. They have little shade. I used timed fertilizer for the first 5 years (but not the last couple of years), they have added only a little fertilizer, and without regard to timing. I wanted/needed significant shade ASAP. Summer is tougher in the south, the more shade the better. I got it in 5-6 years with properly timed fertilizer in the right amount. Would I do it again??? ABSOLUTELY!!! NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 1:34PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Ark - do you find that your oaks and Freeman maples also need to have the fertilizer "backed off" early in the seaseon for good fall color as you mentioned your sugar maples do?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:05PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I back off of all fertilization after May. At this point, they have what they are going to get. I'm speaking of the planted trees. Pot grown trees, they get their last fertilizer about mid-August.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:18PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Trees planted early in the ground will grow significantly faster than same aged one in the pots (but can be done if you KNOW what to do. Just hard to find right materials for that to happen).

Another option is to let feeder roots escape into the ground where there is more moisture and nutrients (see Roottrapper with knitted fabric at the bottoms for feed roots to grow through and "anchor" trees so they don't get blown down. If I had a tree farm, I'd definitely go with that route. Either that or underground knit bags.

I don't think there's any problems using organic fertilizers throughout the summer. I only use synthetic fertilizer in spring/fall. Last thing I want to do is mow all the time during hot weather. Alfalfa pellets at the rate of 20lbs per 1000 sqft isn't too bad. Vigorio organic fertilizer from Home Depot is intriguing. Jobee at Lowes is exactly the same. Milorginate has good amount of iron too keep lawn deep green. Mix it up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vigorio organic fertilizer

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 6:15PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Here's one of my Scarlet Oaks in a Smart Pot. It's one of the less vigorous ones, but it's the one I got the best picture of. About 2.5 months old top growth, roots started earlier.

Never mind the black rubber mats at the far right, that's something my 5 year old was doing.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:10AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Ark -

How late into the season did yours grow? Did you get any fall color to speak of the first season? I'm not expecting to this year, just curious.

Two of mine seem to actually be branching and not just growing as a straight whip - did yours do that too?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:12AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

A picture is worth a thousand words. See link below. End of first growing season. Flushed into August IIRC. There was no winter dieback.


Here is a link that might be useful: Scarlet Oak seedlings

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:50AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Wow -mine aren't near that size yet! Granted, it's July and they're still growing, but if they're going to be hardening off in a month to 6 weeks from now, I can't imagine getting THAT much more growth in that timeframe. Mine are 10" or shorter. The 2 that have some branching will soon surpass that.

This post was edited by hairmetal4ever on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 10:34

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:32AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

In news more positive than my curly Metasequoias, the Scarlet Oaks are really taking off now.

This one has DOUBLED in size in a week with this last flush, now nearing 18".

Also in the back you can see part of one of my Q. michauxii.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 8:46PM
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They look very happy!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:09AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

They seem to be. The one in the last pic was a bit of a slug, then just decided to take off in the last week or so!

Must have been building some roots. They do have short but abundant roots coming out the bottoms of the smart pots, so I elevated them to get some air pruning from the bottom.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 2:39PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

On next year's growing from seed adventure list:

More oaks (probably alba, maybe more Scarlet, plus some nuttall, bicolor, and hybrids if I can get some)
Carya (probably a couple species)
Cercis canadensis (will probably just collect some local seed, there are plenty available around here)
More Metasequoia (since I have about a metric ton of seed left from Schumacher's)
Taxodium distichum and ascendens
Larix mastersiana if I can locate some seed
Liriodendron tulipifera
Cladrastis kentukea (not sure I spelled it right and too lazy to google it)
Several more Acer (since the rabbits ate most of my efforts this year except a lone Black Maple seedling)

Might also try some Katsura.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Water Oaks are prety fast growers.
I have a huge one in my yard that is over 60ft tall and 60 ft wide.

There are always acorn seedlings.
They usually get mowed but i let one grow.
It sprouted in the spring of 09' and it is already about 15 ft.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 12:50PM
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