Vimy Oak

(Question)

We have been given a Vimy Oak – one of the small number of seedlings from grand-acorns (offspring) of oaks that used to cover Vimy Ridge in France. After the battle of Vimy Ridge (1917), a Canadian soldier gathered up acorns and brought them back to Canada, where they were propagated. Trees were grown from those acorns, and they in turn produced acorns. It is from one of those acorns that my seedling was born. I have a particular reason to have my seedling grow into a healthy tree. On advice, I planted it outside, protected by a barrier. But not protected enough, because it was eaten by a deer/rabbit/something. But it generated another shoot, so I planted it in a pot and brought it inside. It looks healthy, with good leaves. Here’s my question: it is not adjusting to the season – not showing signs of dropping its leaves or anything. My hope is that come spring, its clock will make it grow again. It’s in a pot in a cool-ish room, with lots of light. Am I doing the right thing? Also, should I be fertilizing it during the winter? Thanks

(Answer)

I read about these seedlings around Remebrance Day this year. How wonderful for you to have one of these seedlings.

As you have done, seedlings may be propagated in- doors by planting in containers. Full sun is required for indoor growth. Outdoors, the seedlings can grow in partial shade. Use a container that is at least 1 foot deep to allow enough space for good tap root formation and production of numerous lateral roots that will develop along the length of the tap root. The walls of the container should have ribs to force the lateral roots downward, which eliminates root spiraling. The bottoms of the containers should have sufficient drainage holes, or be nearly open, so roots will air prune as they emerge from the bottom of the container.

The container should be filled with a mixture of half potting soil and half topsoil from your yard or garden. If the potting mix did not contain a slow-release fertilizer, you will need to water with a liquid fertilizer, at one-half the rate every 6 weeks.

Indoor-grown oak seedlings in containers may be placed outside around April in
a partially shaded location for 4 to 6 weeks, which allows the seedlings to acclimate to outdoor conditions. Then they can be moved to a sunny location for maximum growth.

Keep containers off the ground to allow for air circulation. If containers are in direct contact with the soil, the roots will penetrate into the soil and will be difficult to extract later. Water the containers if rainfall has not occurred for a few days.

Do not dig up seedlings until after several frosts have occurred. This may be in December or January. The cold weather will harden off the seedlings so you can transplant them to their desired location.

Here are links to two sites which will provide additional information.

https://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/publications/p2421_0.pdf

http://www.wildonesniagara.org/images/F-5031web.pdf

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