Want a beautiful majestic oak in your garden? Before taking the plunge, it is important to understand its mode of cultivation to promote its general development.  For the tree is full of contradictions; it likes full sun, but too much sunlight is harmful to its seedlings. The oak also needs lots of water, although overly damp soil is not beneficial to its growth.

Oak, with more than 550 recognized species, is considered to be the king of the forest tree. This tree is widespread in the northern hemisphere, being present in Europe, Asia and America. It can live up to 500 years depending on the species, reaching a height of 45 yards, or remain a shrub.

How to plant an oak?

Everything starts with planting, a stage at which one must take really good care of the oak. First of all, decide if you want to sow it or simply plant a shrub. You can opt for the acorn, the oak’s fruit, but in general, few people manage to bring it to maturity.  Thus, we recommend you choose shrubs.

To make your selection at the nursery, inspect the roots’ condition. Prefer bare roots or clumps, rather than plants in pots, because the more the roots appear to be strong and long, the more likely it is that your tree will become deeply embedded in the ground to fetch water.  For the worst enemy of the oak is truly the lack of water!

The oak is planted in autumn, in an environment well-suited for its growth. Choose a wooded area, where existing trees can provide protection against bad weather. The land should be rich and well-drained. The oak tree likes full sun or a location in partial shade. Nonetheless, excessive sunlight would only bring about negative effects, especially during the oak’s early years.

It is during its early years that oak has the greatest need for water. Trimming the oak is not mandatory, but after several years a small pruning of the branches located within reach of man may be considered. Moreover, extreme cold is not an obstacle to the growth of oak, as they are generally resistant to frost.

How to sow acorns?

If you opt for planting, you can search for a particular species’ acorn in a forest. Take those of large size, and especially avoid picking up pierced acorns. After selecting a quality acorn, place three acorns in the ground about 1 foot deep. To do this, place them in a small clay pot filled with potting soil and sand, remove the cups and push them in vertically. Cover with 2 inches of soil.

Warning: do not pack the soil or water the substrate if it is damp. The first rootlets will appear within a few months and once the seeds are out, proceed with repotting the following fall. While growing, the oak will bear small flowers around May or June, which will in turn produce acorns, for a perpetual cycle.

Some oak species

Some oaks are deciduous, others evergreen. These majestic trees can reach up to 45 yards, while others will always remain shrubs. Some species, such as the “Quercus suber,” commonly called the cork oak, grow very well in the entire Mediterranean Basin where the climate is known to be drier.

The Northern Red Oak is defined as a full-sun plant. Some species have the distinctive feature of being evergreen. This is the case of the pubescent oak or downy oak. It takes its name from the downy feel characterizing the back of its leaves. Reaching up to fifteen feet, it produces a very hard wood, used in carpentry for making furniture or railway sleepers.

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Published in Large trees by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011