transplanting oak seedlings

songbird53(4)September 24, 2007

A friend of mine dug up 4 1-2 ft. high oak seedlings for me to transplant at my house. However, she did cut through the tap root on each seedling. Will these survive, or does the tree need the entire tap root?


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nyssaman(Z6 ON)

They are done for - you will quickly find out that digging up even the smallest oak trees is a complete waste of time - get some acorns, float test them - if they sink they should be sound - discard ones that float they have weevils - mix them in a zip lock bag with some moist peat moss not wet - throw them in the fridge until spring - plant them out in deep pots in a light soil less mix ( guard with chicken wire and fold over so that squirrels cannot get at the seedling) by next fall you will have nice 1 foot seedlings that you can plant out.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 1:23PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

You can dig (I have pulled them from a moist flowerbed and planted them on successfully) the seedlings in the early to mid-summer as they sprout, as well, if you don't want to do your own seeding.

Some oaks have taproots, and some don't, some keep them and some lose them after a certain number of years, as far as I can tell. Depending on the species, your transplants may or may not be OK. Providing there is a good supply of feeder roots (the fine ones), then the leaves and tree can get fed. If they haven't lost their leaves already, they may do so quickly - this is a normal reaction to stress. As long as the cambium layer (just under the bark) on the twigs is still green, the tree is (at that moment) still alive. If it's little effort for you, you can plant them out, look after them well, and see what happens - they might surprise you!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 1:44PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

this is how i transplant tree [picture below] in october or april in my zone 5 ... timing is the most important thing ... you dont mention when yours were dug...

this one happens to be a cherry tree.. i do the same with oaks.. all voluteers from my lot .... as well as smaller versions.. mail order ...

whether yours live or not.. is now in the hands of ma nature.. water deeply .. and only when they nearly dry out this fall .. and the same all next year ... insert finge 3 to 6 inches to see how the soil is moving water through it ...

if they leaf out.. you win .. if not.. well.. you know ...

you can try the scratch test.. gently scratch a limb.. and see if the green cambian layer is still green.. if so .. you are in business ... just dont go scratching it once a week until next spring..

good luck


    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 2:35PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Well i have an oak seedling that i thought of making into bonsai and to do that you need to cut the tap root,and whenever its repotted the roots are cut back. The tree is still out there,chugging away...

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 3:15PM
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I do 'em just like ken illustrated wiht his photo above - and with a strongly-taprooted species like some oaks, hickories, pecans, I'll try to preserve 12-18 inches of taproot - if I can get 'em out of the ground with that much; there's nothing 'magical' about a taproot - it's mainly a reserve energy storage vessel, so when digging a taprooted species, the more you can preserve, the more 'reserves' it has to draw upon when restoring its feeder root system and pushing leaves next spring.
I'd have no qualms about digging and transplanting an oak the size of ken's cherry and expecting it to transplant, survive, and do well, provided you mulch and water regularly as needed during the first year; one that size might require 3-4 years or so before it got re-established and recommenced rapid youthful growth.
My only concern with survival of your seedlings, songbird, is whether or not they are dormant - I prefer to only move oaks/hickories in their dormant state, after they've dropped their leaves in fall or before they leaf out again in spring.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 6:03PM
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You can transplant oaks with some degree of success, but you need to wait until after they've gone dormant in the fall. Digging in the middle of summer is a near-certain death sentence.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 2:39PM
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