Planting Oak

Most Oaks grow best in full sun, but tolerate light shade. Bur Oak must have full sun to thrive. Red Oaks are more tolerant of shade than most Oaks, but they really appreciate a sunny spot. They prefer a coarse to fine well-drained soil. They also prefer moist soil, but can manage somewhat dry soil for short periods. They are most comfortable in soils on the acid side (pH 6.1 to 7.0). In alkaline soils (pH 7.0 to 8.0 and above), most Oaks develop a mineral deficiency disease called chlorosis. Older trees resent any construction disturbance near their root zone. If you are unsure about your soil and have difficulty growing azaleas and hollies on your property it may be wise to test for acidity. Use a pH meter for a quick check, or get a soil test kit from you local country extension service for a more complete analysis. Bur Oaks can handle somewhat alkaline soil.

Because they have a deep taproot, the Oaks in the White Oak group are difficult to transplant. For that reason, growers have tried to develop ways to grow Oaks so they develop more fibrous roots. Buy locally grown trees. Choose trees that have been dug in the spring and whose roots and soilball are wrapped in burlap or are in a container. Check for the presence of 6 to 12 inches of new growth from the one or two seasonal growth spurts typical of Oaks. Do not buy a tree that does not show new growth. Oaks are sold small for more successful transplanting. It you want one larger than 2½ inches in diameter, plan for a professional to plant it and insist on a guarantee.

Stake newly planted Oaks only if they are at risk of being blown over or uprooted before they get established. Where prevailing winds are a potential problem, stake newly planted trees for up to a year. Staked longer, trees may not develop sufficient stabilizing roots on their own.

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