The Q&A Archives: Oak Trees

Question: I'm thinking of purchasing a couple of oak trees for my backyard. I am looking at pin oaks and scarlet oaks. Could you give me some information on these two types of oak trees? (i.e. how tall do they get, how fast do they grow, and any problems with them that might arise.)Also, I want to plant them now but I think the fall might be better. Which would be a better time to plant them?

Answer: Quercus coccinea, Scarlet Oak, is native to eastern United States and grows well in all areas of the country. It's a deciduous tree with moderate to rapid growth (depending upon soil conditions) and can reach 60'-80' at maturity. It has an open branching habit with bright green leaves to 6" long, deeply cut and pointed lobes. The leaves provide bright scarlet color in the autumn months. The roots grow deep, so you can easily garden under the tree. Planted in loose, rich soil in full sunshine, Scarlet Oak will perform beautifully. Quercus palustris, Pin Oak, is also native to the eastern U.S. and will grow well in any region. It's a deciduous tree with moderate to rapid growth, with a mature height of 50'-80'. Pin Oak is slender and pyramidal when young, but open and round headed at maturity. The lower branches tend to droop toward the ground and if these are cut off, the branches above will adopt the habit and droop down. The leaves are glossy dark green, deeply cut into bristle-pointed lobes. Fall color includes yellow, red and russet brown. Leaves tend to hang on throughout the winter and are pushed aside when new leaves begin to grow in the spring. Pin Oaks require ample water during the growing season.

I'd plant in autumn or spring, avoiding weather extremes to lessen transplant shock.

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