Oak

The oak has long been associated with England, tradition, pastoral bliss. No wonder then that this tree is a favourite of so many people in the UK. The oak's solid solemnity forms a part of our image not just of England but of the English. No wonder, then, that we are charmed by the graceful silhouette of these trees. Oaks are slow growing, but huge when grown, so you will have to be sure that you really have enough space to put on in your garden. There are several different varieties, so make sure that you choose the correct one for your space. Planting an oak tree can be a gift to future generations, even if you yourself will never see it grow to its full majestic size.

Growing oak trees:

As with most trees, the oak is commonly bought as a sapling from a nursery or garden centre. It is possible however just to plant an acorn. It will be many year before you get something big enough to call a tree, but watching it grow could be poignant if you planted an acorn to mark a certain occasion. Picking an acorn from an existing tree in late summer or early autumn (they are ready when the acorn comes easily away from the cap) also has the benefit of being free. Perform a 'float test' and discard any acorns that float. Acorns must go through a process of stratification, so place them in the refrigerator in a moist growing medium in a sealed container and check periodically for germination, which should, all being well, occur within 40-45 days. The seeds can then be planted in a pot with what must be high quality compost, ideally containing milled sphagnum moss which will create the ideal sponge like, porous soil. Make sure to water the oak tree sapling enough. It will usually be a couple of years before the oak sapling can be planted into the soil where it will eventually grow to full size.

Oak trees like a fertile soil and saplings will be intolerant of competition so make sure you clear an area around the planting site to give them some space. Oak trees have deep tap roots and cannot really be moved later so make absolutely sure that you will not have to move your oak and that the position you have planned for your oak is a sensible one.

Why grow an oak tree in your garden?

The oak is one of the UK's native trees and it belongs here. We have takes so many of our fine oaks for buildings, ships, furniture and other purposes so it is a wonderful thing if you are, even in a small way, able to put something back.

It can be wonderful to watch a tree grow with your family and to imagine that tree going on and growing for generations to come. Growing an oak tree is not just about satisfaction for a gardener, it is about enriching the landscape and the ecosystem and preserving native trees for the future.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Quercus robar