Oak trees are among the most common tree species found in forests, but their numbers are declining. You can help solve this problem by planting oak trees in your neighborhood with acorns. Find out how!


Don’t gather the first acorns that fall. Wait until the second flush begins to fall, and then collect several handfuls. You might think you are collecting a lot more than you need, but the germination rates for acorns is low, so you need lots of extras. 


Check the leaves to determine whether you are collecting white oak or red oak acorns, and label the containers if you collect some of each. 


Visually examine your acorns and throw away any that have small holes where an insect may have bored in, as well as those that are off-colored or moldy. The caps of mature acorns come off easily. 


Go ahead and remove them during your visual inspection. Soak the acorns in a container of water overnight. Damaged and immature seeds float to the top, and you can scoop them off and discard them. 


White oak acorns are ready for planting right after soaking, but red oak acorns need a special treatment, called stratification. 


Place the red oak acorns in a zipper bag with moist sawdust or peat moss. You don’t want the sawdust or peat moss soaking wet, just lightly damp. Leave them for eight weeks, checking every two weeks or so to make sure they aren’t molding. 


Remove molded acorns and leave the bag open to allow fresh air in if you see signs of mold. Fill pots that are at least 12 inches (31 cm.) deep with potting soil. Plant the acorns an inch (2.5 cm.) deep. You can plant several acorns in each pot. 


Transplant the seedlings to a permanent location when the first leaves unfurl. If you only have one seedling in the pot, you can keep it indoors in a sunny window for up to three months. If you prefer to plant acorns directly in the ground, take care to protect them from wildlife.


If you need help tree trimming, tree pruning, tree stump grinding, tree removal, or removing tree storm damage, give Maryland’s best a call at Maryland Tree Care!