Growing An Oak Tree From An Acorn: Part 1

Walking in the ravine today I noticed quite a few acorns and picked up about six or seven. I’d recently listened to an interview with wildlife and biodiversity expert and entymologist Doug Tallamy where he talked about growing an oak tree from an acorn and thought, yes, I would like to get on that bandwagon. Trees are expensive, and I’ve always loved growing things from seed, so why not an oak tree?

I am especially keen on oaks right now, because of Doug’s view that the best tree for biodiversity is an oak tree. Oak trees support 534 types of butterflies and moths. Black cherry is next best wildlife tree, with 456. That makes me happy because I have quite a few black cherry trees at my schoolhouse in the country. If I could be the catalyst for a few more oak trees on the planet, without having to shell out at the nursery, why not give it a try.

First thing I found out is that not all acorns are going to be good. They have to pass the float test. If they sink, they are viable. If they float, they may be infested with a weevil, and already have a larvae inside. The video above shows cutting open and revealing a weevil larva inside an acorn. Three of the acorns I collected sank, I was happy to see. They were the ones that were the greenest in colour. The floaters were brown. I suppose they had been lying around the longest, so were more vulnerable to contamination by any insects or physical damage.

I followed the next step, which was to put them in a bag in the refrigerator. There they will stay for several weeks, going through the stratification period. This is the cool, moist period that mimics their natural process of germinating. I’ll update my oak tree experiment as time goes on.


  1. Mine too! Picked up a dozen at a local university Now need to know how and how deep to plant. Maybe try a few outdoors and some forced in pots?


    1. I just came back from a garden writers’ event in Atlanta where we had the chance to hear a talk by tree guru Michael Dirr. Because it’s easy to do when done right, he mentions growing oaks from acorns as a fun project for kids. Part of the key is to use the acorns when they’re really fresh (i.e. green, not brown). Here’s a quick how-to from the Montreal Botanical Garden:

      Good luck with your oak trees!

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