Acorns have sprouted and are putting on leaves! What now??


Buck Fawn
Ok, so I'm brand new here. Pretty excited to have found y'all. And yes I'm from Alabama. With that said, if this thread should go another place, please forgive and direct me.

So, I collected some acorns from some white oaks. I believe they are chestnut oak acorns and an actual white oak acorns. Some of the acorns had already sprouted and pushed out a little radicle. So I thought it smart to go ahead and place in some peat moss and put into a tree seedling tube that is about 10 inches deep. Then I kept them inside. And put them under a light. And now they are growing and have beautiful leaves.

So since I'm a complete newb at this, I began "researching" what to do now. And it appears I have made some incorrect moves here. If I could go back in time, I would have collected the acorns, placed them in a ziplock, packed some moist peatmoss around them, and let them sit until late february. Then I would place in seed tubes and left outside and protected from squirrels. I'd bring them inside during freezing nights. Then I would wait until April or May, after threat of frost and freezing temps has passed, I'd plant outside, in a tree tube. Then I'd wait 15 years and put a swing in it for my grandkids. Is this generally correct?

If so, that means I have rushed this process a bit. I'm in N Alabama, zone 7. What should I do with my little oak seedlings? They are a few weeks old and look great. Do I keep them under lights until April? Can I take them outside and expose them to cold weather so they will go dormant? And bring them inside during freezing nights?

I'm attached to them and don't want them to die. I feel silly saying that, but it's the truth.

Please help!


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I don't know for sure but I don't think the young roots will survive the winter outside being in small pots. Insides not ideal either but probably thier best bet. You could bring them out on good days and shufle em back inside when its cold. But thier first winter may have to be indoors.
If it were me I'd keep them inside and only give them about 10 to 12 hours of light.
If it were me I'd keep them inside and only give them about 10 to 12 hours of light.

Same. And I would put them in bigger pots once the roots start to reach the bottom of the tube.
I would put them in bigger pots.

looking good to me!

These are my go to “pots”

54 ounce mega slurp outta the gas stations.

I drill holes in the Bottom

I then put them in bigger pots when the cup shows full roots in bottom

The bigger pots pictured were last years, I put them out last spring way to early, left town and they froze!

I lost 70 % and the 30% that lived were stunted.


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If you can get hold of any more acorns / have any more saved not yet leafed out, putting them in the refrigerator will keep them from sprouting to the leafing stage until the spring when you know you're past the last freeze threat date. Don't need to put them in soil -- just can wrap them in very slightly damp paper towel and place them in a ziploc with a tiny opening left in the seal to keep moisture from rotting the acorns.

Many oaks and especially the whites do tend to grow a bit slow, but I've got a couple of 8-year-old swamp chestnut white oaks I grew from acorns taken out of a buck's belly that are now about 20' tall. Wouldn't swing from any branches yet, but they do look like young trees (versus twigs, saplings, shrubs). Here's a pic of a buck tending a scrape under one of the lower branches of the "belly" oak trees.

Buck Under Swamp Oak (1).jpg

Want faster growth, get your hands on some sawtooths. Grew these from acorns also about 8 years ago. Pretty sure some are over 30' tall now and have really impressive diameters for age. For reference sake, I'm in North Florida so not too far from you -- likely to be closer in climate than many of the guys on here a good bit further north. 👍