How-to Tips for Growing an Oak Tree from an Acorn

There’s no easy way around it: Growing an oak tree from an acorn requires a long-term commitment. With longevity measured in centuries, oaks are in no hurry to achieve maturity. Plant an acorn, give it what it needs, enjoy your oak ’s leisurely development and credit yourself with haven given a gift to the distant future. Our tips will help you make sure it gets there!


How Do I Care for My Acorn before Planting?

The identity of your acorn’s species dictates its pre-planting care:

  • Pack a red or black oak acorn in a sealable plastic bag with an equal volume of leaf mold. Refrigerate at 35 to 40 °F (1.7 to 4.4°C) for six to 12 weeks.
  • Plant a white oak acorn s soon as it falls and nurture it indoors until early spring, or refrigerate in damp leaf mold as you would another variety.

What Kind of Pot and Soil Do I Need for Planting?

Use a 1-gallon (3.78 liter) container and equal parts of good potting soil and milled sphagnum moss. Fill the pot to within 1 inch of its rim and set an acorn horizontally 1 inch below surface. Cover it with medium and water until liquid flows from the drainage holes.

How Do I Care For My Potted Acorn?

Put the pot in a drainage tray in a window getting at least six hours of daily sun. Check it daily and water whenever the medium feels dry. Always prime before watering:

  • Wet the medium with a fine spray, stopping before the water pools.
  • Let the water soak in.
  • Water again until the surface puddles. Drain and return the pot to its window.

Before moving your seedling to its permanent location, set it in a sunny spot for a longer period each day for one or two weeks. Return it indoors at night.

When and Where Do I Plant My Oak Seedling?

Plant your seedling at 4 to 6 inches tall after its leaves start opening. Select a sunny location with well-drained soil and room to accommodate the mature tree.

How Do I Plant It?

Dig a hole twice the width and depth of your planting pot. Gently side the seedling free and center it in the hole. Tamp soil around it, water well and then mound additional soil around the hole. Slope it away from the trunk to keep water from pooling.

Expert gardener’s tip: To discourage foraging wildlife, cage the seedling with chicken wire.