Acorns, now what? (pic)

naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)August 27, 2009

Before I google how to grow oaks the right way..I figure I post here first. Got these acorns off the ground from varies trees in neighborhood.

Should I put them in a small pot first or right in the ground? Do I wait until a certain date to do it? What type of soil would be good to start? When would I see the seedling emerge?

Thanks. And no..I have no idea what type they are. lol

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First off: ground vs. pot

Putting them in the ground leaves them susceptible to squirrels vs. putting them in a pot with some hardware cloth/wire mesh over the top.

Putting them in the ground is beneficial over pot if you know that is where you want them to grow; use a pot if you are not sure where they will live later.

Soil similar to their/your native soil should be good.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 11:00AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

You can also put hardware cloth or some kind of cage over the place where you plant them in the ground. You should probably put a cage around them when they're in the ground anyway, rabbits will eat the shoots.

If you plant them in a pot, make it a deep one, since oaks send down a long tap root. Any regular potting mix will work fine.

Don't let the acorns dry out in the meantime! You can put them in a baggy or jar with moist peat moss or moist potting soil in the meantime.
Before that, put your acorns in a glass of water. Those that float are no good. Use the sinkers.

If the leaves of the parent tree have rounded lobes, it is in the white oak group, and the acorns will probably send out a tap root soon. If the leaves have pointed lobes, it is in the red oak group, and will not germinate until spring (they need a period of cold to germinate). In any case, you will not see leaves until the spring.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 12:58PM
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First, be advised that I had very good success when I collected about 30 acorns and first did a float test with them, before drying them and planting them in pots.

Since you have only a few, still do the float test with them and only plant in pots the acorns that you discover can sink to the bottom. As soon as you remove the ones which have sunk; dry them in a paper towel.

If you want your acorns to grow in forest area, or if you live in a more country type setting, then you can ignore the following suggestions.

But if you live in a neighborhood housing addition, then it would be better to at least consider implementing the following advice.

Plant them in a pot that you cover just as esh-ga described. Then simply set the pot along the east side of your house where they will benefit from late to mid-morning sun and be fully shaded by 1pm and throughout the rest of the afternoon. Or you could set the pot under some mature, well spread, shrubs which would allow only dappled afternoon sun or shade to reach the surface of the pots you might place beneath.

Then just let nature do the rest. If you find you need to water those shrubs at any time, the pots will also receive enough moisture from that or from any rain events. That should be all they need.

Simply leave them alone and wait till next spring when other invasive trees that you see have sprouted in your landscape beds, and which you would normally pull up and discard. At that time or shortly there after you should begin to see sprouts growing up from your previously planted acorns. Any acorns that do not sprout, might simply need to remain in the pot for another year before they would be ready to sprout.

So after you have established your acorns planted in pots and located them under the shrubs or up near the east side of your house, then begin efforts to create what will be a nursery bed, for you to use to plant any of those acorns you find have sprouted and grown to about 3 inches tall next spring.

The raised nursery bed could be small but at least raised 24 inchs tall. I mean, the one you make and have filled with lots of native soil and a good percentage of humus. Watch to see if any weeds grow in that bed, and if they do, simply dig the weeds up before they go to seed. Immediately then, turn those weeds upside down so all their green growth can end up being covered with dirt. Some of the roots left sticking up will need to be cut off and removed, but some also will be from weeds whose roots will simply dry out, die, enough to naturally break apart.

In each following spring, spade and turn the soil in your nursery bed again; in time for you to plant there, any new sprouts your discover. That is, once the acorns you planted in the pots have sprouted and grown to about 3 to 4 inches tall. At that time, simply lift the sprout out of the pot, while being careful to try and not break up the handfull of potting soil in which you find the root is growing.

Also try to avoid breaking off the acorn you find the little sprout has grown out from. Once you have accomplished this, without delay, take the handfull of potting soil which is encasing the sprout's roots and gently plant your little sprout in your previously prepared nursery bed. It is best to plant the sprout at a level where the attached acorn is just at ground level, and will be covered slightly with a little shredded bark or maybe some chopped up oak leaves that you saved from the previous fall.

It is a good idea to cover your nursery bed also with fine mesh wiring, to keep hungry critters from eating the young tender sprouts or their food source acorns from, which your sprouts are growing.

Let your sprouts grow and make certain they are kept watered properly throughout the followig growing season. Once they go dormant at the end of that growing season, your sprouts should be hardened up enough, by late winter just prior to them breaking leaf bud, for you to dig them up. Be careful to not break off the tender young roots, and make certain to dig deep enough to get as much of what should be a well develped young tap root. At that time, since the sapling tree should not have broken dormancy yet, you can rinse away the dirt from the roots. Then lay them in, and cover their roots in, a mostened paper towel.

Once this is completed, go directly to plant your sapling tree into its permanant growing spot. Even then cage the young tree to prevent hungry critters from damaging it. After this your tree should adapt, break dormancy, and quickly grow to be a nice, 1 to 2 foot tall whip form tree; over that upcoming growing season. It may take two or more years after that for the tree to have developed a nice enough branching structure and thickness of trunk to finally become a nice young tree that is well established and could be considered to have a nicely structured little canopy.

If you have the time and patience to do all this, great. Otherwise, it would be better for you to simply go purchase the size and shape of oak tree you want from a reputable nursery.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 1:44PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

Interesting! Thanks! So I tried the floating thing. ONLY 1 FLOATED! lol One of the green ones. So does this really mean the others won't emerge as seedlings? Interesting.

I'll go collect some more and take your word for it.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 10:41PM
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you can plant the ones that sink. Throw away the one that floated.

Acorns that float often have not develped properly, or a bug might have created a tiny hole to enter the acorn and begin eating or in some other way damaged the soft inner parts.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 12:54AM
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I usually put them in water and wait about 30 minutes, then I toss the floaters. Sometimes the outer hull/shell will dry out just enough to make even a good acorn float.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 12:24PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I'd give them a few hours to sink before I gave up on them. It won't hurt a thing to give them a little more time, and some may be viable but a little to dry to sink quickly.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 6:57PM
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I have the easiest method of all -- neighborhood squirrels are kind enough to buy acorns around my house. NOw I've got a baby oak tree starting. NO work!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 9:54PM
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