Oak Tree Planting

PD68PD68 Posts: 3


I am looking to plant an oak tree in memorial to a lost friend. Currently I am being advised contrary information on when to plant the tree. Ideally it would be as soon as possible. 

I am looking to purchase a tree approx 1-2 years old and apprently 5ft ish to be planted in the South East. It will either be a red oak or english oak and that is not decided as yet.

I have been told to plant it now as nearly the end of the season for planting (i.e. within 4 weeks) and others have said wait until after the summer before planting i.e. Sept/Oct time. 

I would be grateful if there were experts or those who have tried and tested to advise. 

Thank you all. 



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,892

    I can understand why you would want to plant your chosen tree as soon as possible, but I would advise leaving it until the autumn - young trees need plenty of watering and in the south-east we are in the driest part of the country.  I know that we've had lots of rain recently, but this may change and if we get a dry summer the ground will soon be parched again.  

    Back in the late winter/early spring of 1976 (notorious for a real drought that year) I planted several specimen trees and a hedge of native English trees and shrubs.  In the drought that followed we were not allowed to use hosepipes and I carried countless buckets of water every day, using water from the washing machine rinse cycle, and all the bath water from a family of four was siphoned into buckets for the trees.  Thanks to a huge effort from myself and my family, all the trees and hedging survived.  

    Unless you are prepared and able to spend as much time and energy as we did  I would recommend planting in the autumn - it would be very sad to lose a tree planted in memory of your friend.

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • PD68PD68 Posts: 3

    Thank you for the response. 

    It does make sence just thought it may be better to have it established whilst it has its leaves and also before frosts. 

    But thank you for your own story and very pleased your specimens survived. 

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    It makes a difference if the tree has been grown in a pot, or if it is supplied bare-rooted.

    Oaks are in leaf now, so there is no way that a bare-rooted tree could be transplanted until Autumn.

    However, if the tree has been pot grown, then I can see no reason why it should not be planted at any time. The tree will still need to be watered regularly. But that should not be a problem, for a single tree.

    I don't think that a nursery would offer you a bare-rooted tree at this time of year.

    PD68 wrote (see)

    .... a tree approx 1-2 years old and apparently 5ft ish ...

    You use the word 'apparently'. I'm also surprised that a 2-year old tree could be 5'. Oaks normally grow at the rate of about 1 foot per year.

  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    Gary is correct, 1-2 years I would have thought would be wips, not 5ft trees. As long as they are not bare root (ie in soil) then you can plant at any time of year, autumn being best.

  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 499

    An oak tree needs plenty of room. Not a garden tree really. If you are planning to plant it away from your home, say in parkland, then do think about whether you will be able to water it if we have a couple of months of hot, dry summer weather. 

  • PD68PD68 Posts: 3

    Thank you all for your comments. They are greatly appreciated. 

    The tree will be planted at an institution where there are ground staff, enough room and close enough to buildings I am told. 

    As for the whole size issue, the reason I stated allegedly is because I was sceptical of a tree being such a size at that age. After looking at several sites it seems this is so.

    I attach the link an example. This link is primary for Gary Hobson and blairs so they can understand where I am coming from. Likewise if of course I have made a mistake please say. The site I am no way connected with, nor endorse and is only highlighted as a reference. 

    <span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px;"><a style="cursor: pointer; color: #3b5998; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.mailordertrees.co.uk/Quercus+rubra+(Red+Oak+Tree)/0_caaa102_caaa136/PRAA353.htm" rel="nofollow nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.mailordertrees.co.uk/Quercus+rubra+(Red+Oak+Tree)/0_caaa102_caaa136/PRAA353.htm&lt;/a&gt

    Otherwise judging by these comments I can plant the tree soon as long as watering is available. If I can wait until Septmeber it would be better. Great.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Thanks for giving us the link.

    That web page doesn't actually say that the Oaks are 2 years old, merely that they are pot-grown and 6ft.

    In the natural state, an oak would take 10 years, or more, to reach that height. Perhaps these oaks are raised in pots, close together, to encourage them to reach upwards. I don't know exactly how they do it.

    These trees are described as 'feathered'. The explanation, in the red box at the left of the page, says 'A good, well-defined prominent leader running straight up through the young tree'. Like a feather, I guess.

    Just beneath, on the same page, is the standard English Oak. Those are being offered for just £10 for a 6ft tree, in a pot, to plant at any time: English Oak Tree

    The Jubilee is coming up, and many communities are thinking of planting a commemorative English Oak.

    Now we know what they should do.

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    This probably does not help ypu, but I will tell you anyway, no-one is obliged to read it!  We found a sprouted acorn one autumn, about 10 years ago, my partner insisted on keeping it.  At first I put it in a border, then realised that this really was not a good idea, as it would become far too large and greedy for that site.  It was dug up, about 2 years after planting, and potted in a HUGE pot.  There it has remained since, growing well, but beause the roots are restrained, it will never become the huge woodloand oak it could have done.    it is very lovely, has good strong growth and beautiful leaves.   Each year we top dress it with new JI3, and clean the gravel around it before replacing it.   So you can grow an oak in a pot, if you are crazy enough to want to do so, but in reality I would not suggest that!

    Get your memorial tree planted in the autumn, it will then become the tree it should be, and will be then a wonderful and suitable growing memorial to your sadly missed friend.  

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I have an oak in a pot, about 25 years old.

    I'm clearly mad image

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Bonsai enthousiasts actually try to grow oak trees in shallow bowls.

    There's some thoughtful technical stuff, written by an expert, here:
    Collecting and Repotting English Oak for Bonsai

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Yes, we have seen bonsai oaks as well, but this one is just a tree - Alina W, so very  glad to hear about your 25 year old oak in a pot - what size pot?  Ours is now about 10 foot tall, but I don't expect it to get much more because of the root restrictions.  Do you prune it or anything?  

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    It's 18" across and as deep, Bookertoo - I have to try and keep the size down as I really have no room. It does get pruned to keep it in shape, and moved regularly to stop it rooting into the ground beneath (I had a twisted willow do that once - guess I should have been suspicious when it put on a spurt of growth!) My main problem is that it keeps getting oak gall, probaby from the mature oaks nearby.

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Mine is on an even larger pot, but I possibly have more space than you have.  The pot is on a paved area, so in principle the roots can't go through - but I'd not realy trust that!  It could never be moved save by a JCB, unless the pot was broken up. I have had several things go through their pots, a large acer in our garden must have done that years ago, as it is far too big to be living in its pot alone.  I won't try to remove the pot as it must be full of roots, but I am fascinated by the idea it has this narrow root through the hole and then a major root mass, unless it has broken the bottom of the pot out.   I have never pruned our oak yet, bar the odd dead twig - do you do it in the winter when it is dormant?   We have no mature oaks too close so as yet it has not caught anything horrible.  I don't think oak gall is harmful though is it? 

  • Hi there, I am looking to plant some oak tree specimens that have been sown from seed and pot grown for the last year. They are healthy specimens with lots of foliage and have been in a glass house during this period. The areas I am to plant them in are very exposed, and vulnerable to potential rabbit and deer damage as is out in the sticks. I am really looking for some advice and guidance, in regards to suitable protection along with staking. Wether to prune a lot of the growth off before using a tree guard, or to enclose the area as a whole and simply stake the trees? Any guidance or help would be massively appreciated as I do not want to risk the well being of the trees, as there is a certain degree of sentimental value to the family as they collected the seeds and proceeded to grow, much appreciated for reading and any help if possible, Lewis 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,892

    How big are your oak saplings?

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    I'd protect each one separately Lewis as the damage from deer and rabbits could be substantial which would be a real shame. It shouldn't be necessary to prune off lower branches unless they're big. Staking's  vital if they are more than just whips but, as they've been raised inside, I think you need to take some time to harden them off thoroughly as they're going in an exposed site, although I'd be prepared for a few casualties anyway.

  • Hi there, the specimens vary in size, 3 foot to 5 I'd say. The majority are abundant in foliage that's why I think I may need to prune, as getting an individual sleeve over the trees along with a stake inside, may cause damage possibly to the lower limbs? The client is prepared for some casualties as has asked me to plant more than necessary in the required areas, with the possibility of lifting and moving any survivors in inadequate space elsewhere next year. How would you recommend hardening them off fairy girl before eventually planting them in their exposed environment? Positioning or planting them elsewhere initially to get them use to some degree of the fine British weather, before then planting them in their required areas?

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    That's pretty much it lewis. It's just a gradual process but as it's warming up a bit it shouldn't take too long. As they're  a reasonable size they may sulk a bit at first so I wouldn't rush it- take a few weeks. Don't know where you are but I'm in Scotland so that's why I'm suggesting taking it easy-we're aware of how damaging our weather can be up here! Prepare your planting holes well too and make sure they don't go short of water till established.Good luck with it-it's lovely that they've all been 'home grown' image

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    All the luck in the world with the move of the oak trees - please do let us know how you get on - and how they look in situ, if the client doesn't mind that.

  • Thanks very much in regards to help and guidance, and also wishing us well. Will do just that fairly girl in regards to weaning them in to their new environment, before planting them in their fixed setting. Am from Falkirk myself originally but am now based down in Oxfordshire where the work is to be carried out. when planting them in their final location, I think I am going to protect each specimen individually with a tree guard and stake. Then protect the whole area with some fencing to hopefully avoid any deer damage, how does this sound? Will let you both know how get on as the client won't mind at all, and hopefully the specimens will thrive with the right amount of aftercare. Although if we have another day like yesterday wind wise, they may end up in the farmers field next door

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