Forum home The potting shed

Autumn germination of acorns

Just an interesting observation here on Oak germination.
I have been collecting various tree seeds for a project and made the mistake of storing some Sessile Oak acorns too warm.
They were intended for sowing next Spring but began germinating in a bag indoors in early October; so I hastily planted them in small pots in an unheated greenhouse and wondered whether they would be cut short and killed off by the falling temperatures and fading Autumn light.
About half made it to 10 cm seedlings with good leaves before they ground to a halt - the rest stopped growing with only very immature seed leaves and I wondered if they were doomed to starve after expending the acorn energy store before the leaves could photosynthesize properly.
So I brought the immature seedlings indoors and put them on a bright but cool window sill.
Not a great environment for Oak trees but it has re-started their germination process and they are thriving.
My question is now what?
Should I allow them to grow indoors during the Winter and will they continue through to the Spring behaving essentially as evergreens?
Or will this mess up their bio clock?
Any suggestions welcome - my own guess is that once they have decent sized leaves I should gradually harden them off and put back outside or in the unheated greenhouse.


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,786
    Put them outside. Think about what happens naturally. The process starts when the nuts fall, there is no storing, they hit the ground, maybe buried a bit by squirrels and the strt germinating. They are hardy plants and will not survive as houseplants
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,994
    Have you got ' a large acreage' if they all grow @richardhoddinott;)

    as @nutcutlet says - think of how they grow naturally.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • I think you are right, they will go back into the unheated greenhouse very soon then out in the garden if I can protect from squirrels: who chewed off the tops of several oak seedlings as soon as they emerged.
    The oaks are destined for a tree planting project we are planning in the Outer Hebrides. Initially there will be 1.5 acres but hopefully much more in the long run.
    The local Woodland Trust office has been very helpful and say they can probably find homes for any surplus saplings.
    These acorns and most other seeds we are using are Scottish sourced by the way.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,994
    Ooh lovely @richardhoddinott:)
    I take it they've been very particular about where they're planted? Everyone wants to get on the tree planting bandwagon nowadays, but it isn't that simple is it? Planted in the wrong places means they displace other habitats.

    They're not going to get very big in the Hebrides either  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • The land we are (hoping) to purchase is currently very degraded by over grazing and possibly peat cutting.
    We don't plan to change everything overnight as the current flora & fauna is richer than it looks, and the first job will be a thorough survey of species.
    However the soil type is capable of supporting native trees and was almost certainly broad leafed forest not so very long ago.
    I was amazed to discover Lews Castle Gardens in Stornoway: just a few miles away, where the trees rival anything growing in my native Cheshire.
    The Hebridean Ark Project is promoting re-foresting with native sourced trees, as are the Woodlands Trust, so it is a really exciting time to be involved; even on a tiny plot like the one we hoping to get.
    Another surprise is the relative mildness of the climate: Stornoway's lowest ever recorded temperature is a good 8 degrees higher than Cheshire's.
    There is an awful lot of rain and wind to take into account, and a shorter cooler growing season, but at least we won't have to worry so much about watering saplings.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,994
    The wind is the main problem - and the resulting wind chill. People often underestimate the difference it makes. It can easily knock ten to fifteen degrees off a temperature. 
    No shortage of rain for watering stuff in  ;)

    I wish you lots of luck with it. Don't forget to come back and let us know how it goes - with pix if you can.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,994
    This  reminded me of the day I was heading up Sguur a Mhaim [Glen Nevis] - little trays ready for planting out  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks, will be updating as soon as we get the land or somewhere similar hopefully ..
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,994
    All the best with it @richardhoddinott :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

Sign In or Register to comment.