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Red Oak Tree Information: How To Grow A Red Oak Tree

Red Oak Tree Information: How To Grow A Red Oak Tree


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By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) is a handsome, adaptable tree that thrives in nearly any setting. Planting a red oak tree requires a bit of extra preparation, but the payoff is great; this American classic provides glorious summer shade and reliable fall color for many years to come. Read on for red oak tree information, then learn how to grow a red oak tree.

Red Oak Tree Characteristics and Info

Red oak is a hardy tree suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. This moderately fast-growing oak tree reaches mature heights of 60 to 75 feet (18.5 to 23 m.), with a spread of 45 to 50 feet (13.5 to 15 m.). The tree is valued for its deep root system, which makes it useful for planting near urban streets and sidewalks.

How to Grow a Red Oak Tree

Planting a red oak tree is best done in spring or fall so the roots have time to settle in before the arrival of hot, dry weather. Select a planting space carefully so the tree won’t interfere with buildings or power lines. As a general rule, allow at least 20 feet (6 m.) in each direction. Ensure the tree is exposed to at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.

In its natural environment, red oak has a symbiotic relationship with various fungi, which provides the roots with moisture and minerals. The best way to replicate this natural soil environment is to dig generous amounts of manure and compost into the soil before planting. This step is especially important in urban areas where the soil may be depleted.

Plant the tree in a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball, then fill the hole with a soil/compost mixture. Water the tree deeply and slowly to ensure the area around the root ball is saturated. A thick layer of bark mulch will keep the roots cool and moist.

Protect young red oak trees with a fence or cage if you have hungry rabbits or deer in the neighborhood.

Care of Red Oak Trees

Care of red oak trees is minimal, but a new tree requires regular moisture, especially during hot, dry weather. Water the tree deeply once every week in the absence of rainfall. Established trees are relatively drought tolerant.

Treat young red oak trees with a commercial fungicide if you notice powdery mildew during warm, humid weather. Watch for aphids, which are usually easy to remove by spraying the foliage with a strong stream of water. Otherwise, use an insecticidal soap spray.

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Read more about Oak Trees


How to Grow Scarlet Oak Trees

Kathy Collins/ Getty Images

If you want to know the most magnificent colors of fall, look at the foliage of the Scarlet Oak. The tree puts on an autumn show from late fall through early winter when most other trees have lost their leaves.

This incredible specimen is an example of color theory in garden design, with its blazing scarlet that is often set against the bright blue chilly fall skies, or a stark white field of early snow.

The scarlet oak’s scientific name is Quercus coccinea, Quercus meaning oak and coccinea being the word for scarlet in Latin. This tree, besides being a wonderful home and food source for countless forms of wildlife, and an excellent provider of shade, is defined by the amazing color display it puts on every year.

The scarlet oak belongs to a group of oaks called the red oak group which is made up of some other beautiful trees that are often mistaken for the scarlet oak but can never match its fall beauty. Do not mistake the Black Oak, Pin Oak, Northern Red Oak, Nuttail Oak, California Black Oak, Laurel Oak, Water Oak, Shumard Oak, or Willow Oak for the Scarlet Oak when shopping for the tree. It is even misidentified in the nursery trade at times. Look for the deep “C”-shaped lobes on the scarlet oak’s leaves, as compared to the often “U”-shape of other species in the Red Oak group.

When wanting to plant the scarlet oak, you will have to take into consideration the scarcity of the tree in the nursery trade. But this should not stop you. The tree can be found online with some searching and it is worth the time.

The scarlet oak is an East Coast native so that should give you a head start on where to look.

Botanical Name Quercus coccinea
Common Name Scarlet Oak
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 50 to 70 ft. Tall 40 to 50 ft. Wide
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type average, dry to medium, well-drained soil
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time April to May
Flower Color Yellow to Green
Hardiness Zone 4-9
Native Range Eastern United States
Toxicity Non-toxic

How to Plant Red Oak Trees

The red oak is a deciduous tree native to many parts of North America. It grows natively in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. The trees grow quickly and can reach a maximum size of 80 feet tall with a trunk 2 feet to 3 feet in diameter. Red oaks get their name from the reddish hue of the underside of their bark. The wood from red oak trees is commonly used in furniture, flooring and other wood products. They are also commonly planted as ornamental trees. As long as you provide the proper conditions and setting, you should have success growing a red oak.

Find a location to plant your red oak tree. They grow best in well-draining soils, and they prefer north, east or northeastern exposures.

Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the sapling's entire root system. It's best to use red oak saplings with a long and straight root system.

Set the red oak in the hole, taking care not to let the roots gets smashed or damaged. If the roots are not set carefully, the tree may not grow to its potential.

Pack the dirt and surrounding soil back into the hole, taking care to remove all the air. Air bubbles can hinder a plant from reaching its potential.

  • Find a location to plant your red oak tree.
  • It's best to use red oak saplings with a long and straight root system.

Water the sapling immediately after planting so it begins to establish roots in its new location. Water the plant once or twice a week for a couple of months after planting to help it become established.

Red oak seedlings will grow best with some shade protection in the first two of three years. After this, they will need plenty of sun to grow to their full potential.

Red oaks are considered easy to transplant. If your tree outgrows its location or would do better in another area, it should thrive after transplanting.

Red oaks do not generally produce acorns for 20 to 25 years after planting, and a full crop of acorns will not be produced for 40 to 50 years.

  • Red oak seedlings will grow best with some shade protection in the first two of three years. After this, they will need plenty of sun to grow to their full potential.
  • Red oaks are considered easy to transplant. If your tree outgrows its location or would do better in another area, it should thrive after transplanting.
  • Red oaks do not generally produce acorns for 20 to 25 years after planting, and a full crop of acorns will not be produced for 40 to 50 years.

Anna Aronson began working as a journalist in 2000 and spent six years at suburban Chicago newspapers before pursuing freelance work. She enjoys writing about health care topics, in particular obstetrics, pediatrics and nutrition. She received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and is now studying for a Master of Science in medicine degree to become a physician's assistant.


9 Landscape Trees You Shouldn't Plant

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

A surprising number of trees routinely planted as landscape specimens have qualities that are unpleasant, at best. That promising little sapling you planted in the middle of your yard all those years ago may grow into a rebellious teenager, then a grumpy old tree you'd rather not be around at all. The reasons for regret when it comes to selecting a tree can be varied, but the main reasons cited when afterthoughts occur are:

  • The tree is messy. Most everyone expects to rake up leaves from a deciduous tree, but you might be surprised by fruit, berries, or seed pods that make a huge mess of your yard each year.
  • The tree is weak and prone to damage. Some trees are brittle by nature and very susceptible to wind damage or injury from heavy snow and ice. Ash trees, as well as now being susceptible to emerald ash borer, are notoriously brittle and prone to damage.
  • The tree is susceptible to pests and diseases. It can come as a great surprise when that disease or pest problem that lurked 1,000 miles away suddenly reaches your region, just as our tree is beginning to look good. Some types of elm, pine, walnut, and ash have all succumbed to epidemics of pests or diseases at various times.
  • The species causes allergies. Pollen production from certain trees can make life pretty miserable for sensitive individuals during the spring flowering season.
  • The tree has roots with water-seeking tendencies that threaten water mains or septic tanks. Some trees are much worse than others at seeking out water wherever it is—including your underground water and sewer lines.
  • The dense shade of the tree may make it impossible to grow grass or other plants. It should come without saying that trees cast shade, but the degree of dense shade can surprise you if you've planted a large-leaved specimen, such as catalpa.
  • Some trees affect the soil in a manner that makes other plants suffer. Pine trees of all kinds will drop needles that make the surrounding soil acidic. And black walnut actually puts a toxin in the ground that kills many other plants.

Think hard about these nine landscape trees before planting them on your property.


Growing Conditions

Shumard oak trees grow in rich, moist woods, especially near creeks or swamp. The tree grows in acidic, neutral or alkaline soils. Seedlings require full sun to develop, but established saplings and trees can tolerate partial shade. Established trees can tolerate drought but may lose leaves.

  • The maximum height of oak trees varies according to variety and growing conditions.
  • Seedlings require full sun to develop, but established saplings and trees can tolerate partial shade.

Shumard oaks make good shade trees and are often planted as street trees. Lumber from the Shumard oak is hard, heavy and close-grained and used for veneer, flooring and furniture.


How to Plant an Oak Tree

1. Get oak tree seeds

You can get it under oak trees in the fall, which is at the end of September and early November. The oak tree seeds must be filled, not to be split or rotten. Oak is ready for planting when the tips of the seeds relax and can be easily disposed of. But if you plant red oak you have to wait until next spring.

However, if you find oak seeds under a tree that has germinated, you can take it and plant it directly.

White oak seeds don’t take a long time to plant, just in one season. However, red oak must wait for up to two seasons (the next spring) to be planted.

2. Save the oak tree seeds

If you have to store oak seeds before planting, you should pay attention to the storage media, store in a humid place. Do not let the oak seeds dry, if dry for a long time then it will lose its ability to grow.

Store in a damp place, take a plastic bag and insert the peat, put oak in it, store it in a humid place. You can store it in the refrigerator, but set the temperature to 32-40 degrees F. Remember! do not make your oak frozen in the refrigerator but always keep the humidity.

If you want to delay planting for white oak seeds, you can save this way, but the temperature should be 32-35 degrees F. If the temperature is 36 degrees up, it will germinate.

3. Time to plant

Take the oak that you have stored in a moist or healthy oak seed and free of mold and disease. Fill the pot into one gallon, do not take garden soil because of the potential for fungi and pests. If you have a bigger gallon, this is better. Vertical roots of oak plants will grow quickly.

Take the seeds and place them on the ground, cover them with soil and let them loose. The soil must always be moist and avoid stagnant water in the pot, make a small hole under the pot for drains.

4. Transplant Seedlings

If you plant grafted oak, provide a large hole. This is so that the oak plants can grow freely. Oak is an old plant, so planting should not be close to the road, sidewalk because it will grow big like a mango plant in general.

If you plant from a seed, you can move it into a larger container when the first leaf has hardened. Usually, oak leaves begin to solidify after two weeks of germination. If you want to move it on the ground, dig a large hole or the size of the pot where you plant the seeds.

The land must also be considered, avoiding moldy soil or pests. Of course, you want oak plants to grow healthy and free of pests and diseases.

5. Transplant a Young Oak Tree

If you do not plant from seeds as in the case you buy oak plants that have been grown in the central garden, then you must provide a hole three times larger than the root clump. Remember, don’t plant beside the road, or on the edge of the sidewalk because you don’t want oak trees to grow large on the road. Fill the hole that you have made with soil or compost, make a mound around the stem to grow steadily.

6. Watering Your Oak Tree

Don’t let your oak plant dry out, so always flush when you see the place where the oak planting begins to dry out. Do regular watering for one year to build the oak root system well. However, do not water too much because it can cause rotten roots. The best way to do watering is by using a hose or drip irrigation.

7. How to protect your oak plant

To keep the soil loose and fertile, use organic mulch. Spread around a tree at a distance of 4 inches, use organic mulch from the aphelia or pine straw. Always guard and protect oaks from various bad things such as weather, animals, or damage caused by the agricultural equipment you use.


Watch the video: Growing Oak Trees From Planting Acorns