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MJW
Feb 22, 2014 3:43 PM CST
I have some acorns from a red oak. I'd appreciate information about growing them. I live in zone 5. I'd like to start them in my house to be transplanted outdoors. (Just in case the snow ever melts.)
Thank you for your help.
MJW
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 22, 2014 4:06 PM CST
I thought this was about ATP acorns...

Okay, red oak seeds/acorns.
Collect when freshly fallen, place in a bag of slightly dampish sphagnum moss in the fridge, wait for 1,000 hours. Basically, you plant not in the Spring after you collect them, but rather in the next Spring - the second Spring.

Other oaks have different requirements.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Feb 22, 2014 9:51 PM CST
greene said:Collect when freshly fallen, place in a bag of slightly dampish sphagnum moss in the fridge, wait for 1,000 hours. Basically, you plant not in the Spring after you collect them, but rather in the next Spring - the second Spring.

1000 hours is only 42 days. Planting a year and a half later seem a bit incongruous. Confused

Acorns are susceptible to drying that will reduce germination rates. When acorns are fresh, a float test in water is a good indicator of viable seed. (Bad ones float.) I am not sure how reliable the test would be on your stored seed. If you have stored them thus far dry, my guess is that germination will be poor. Recommended for the red oak group is one to three months at fridge temp (35-45F) in damp media. This will provide the stratification needed before you plant. As far as I know, all oak seeds germinate in warm temperatures. They shouldn't germinate in the fridge.

Acorns also have quite a few different insects that love to eat and grow inside them. I would cut open some of the light weight ones (they would probably be dead anyway) and see if there is any evidence of insects present (weevils and various larvae, mostly). If the acorns have been stored at room temperature thus far, I would expect any insects to have already grown and vacated the acorn. Look for exit holes on the shell about a millimeter (or smaller) in size.

Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Feb 23, 2014 11:13 PM CST

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Red oaks, like most species of oak, have acorns that are hydrophilic, meaning they won't tolerate drying out. They can be stored, but it requires maintaining humidity at a high level.

Frankly, the easiest way to grow oaks is to gather the acorns as soon as they fall and immediately plant them in the spots where you want the future trees to be. Plant 3 or 4 acorns in each spot, if more than one comes up you can always thin them later.

If you need to grow them in pots, it's still best to plant them immediately after they fall to the ground. Then put the pots in a shed or unheated garage and leave them (check every now and then to make sure the planting medium stays moist) until the tail end of winter, about now in this part of zone 5. Move them outside and wait for germination, it usually happens in late April/early May here.

Use the deepest pots you can manage. By the time the first leaves emerge for each seedling, its taproot will be down a foot or so. If the pots aren't deep enough, or the seedlings are left in them too long, their taproots will start to circle around the bottom of the pots. That creates a variety of negative consequences for the tree, some of which won't show up until years later. Many planted oak trees die young simply because they weren't treated properly when they were in pots.
[Last edited by KentPfeiffer - Feb 24, 2014 8:51 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Feb 24, 2014 6:56 PM CST
>> Use the deepest pots you can manage.

A 2-liter soda bottle, all by itself, might not be big enough for an oak seedling even though it is fairly tall.

However, you might make a large pot "taller" by cutting the top and bottom off a 2-liter soda bottle, making a mostly-straight-walled sleeve or collar.

Then "screw" the bottom end of the bottle into the top of the potting mix. Go deep enough that it seems pretty stable.

Then fill the soda bottle with moist potting mix so that it makes good contact with the soil in the pot. Plant the acorns near the top of the mix in the bottle.

Probably mostly water through the top of bottle, and maybe cover the gap between the bottle and the walls of the pot with plastic to keep humidity in (but allow some air gaps to help it stay aerobic).

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