Which Way Up Should You Plant Oak Acorns?

Growing an oak tree from an acorn can take a long time. But the results are well worth it due to the shade it can provide your home in addition to being a home and food source for many native animals. But when planting an acorn, you may be wondering, which way up should you plant it? We’ve done the research to answer this very question.

Truthfully, it doesn’t matter which way up you plant an oak acorn. The acorn will sprout as long as you plant it using the right steps and provide it with proper care. However, planting the acorn with the pointed end down is the more natural way to plant it for proper root growth.

Does the way that you plant an acorn actually determine anything? And how should you plant an acorn to have the most success with it growing? In this article, we’ll provide the answers to these questions and more.

Woman with black nails holding acorns in her palms, Which Way Up Should You Plant Oak Acorns?

Does It Matter Which Way You Plant An Acorn?

Oak tree and acorns with copyspace

One of the top questions people ask when trying to grow an oak tree is which way you should plant the acorn. Acorns have two ends: a pointed end and a round end. The round end may or may not have a cap on it.

Here’s what you have to consider. Squirrels eat acorns as a food source, and they’re always burying them somewhere in the woods. Plus, the trees drop the acorns on their own. Many of these acorns get buried under leaf cover and dirt as a result of wind and rain.

In nature, buried acorns aren’t always going to be turned a certain way. Yet many of them grow into oak trees anyway. That means that the way your plant it doesn’t necessarily determine whether an oak tree grows or not.

With that being said, you still need to consider the natural root growth of oak trees. When acorns sprout, a taproot forms which grows downward into the soil. This taproot usually grows out of the pointed end of the acorn.

If you plant the acorn with the round, capped end facing downward, this goes against the natural growth of the root. That’s not to say that the acorn won’t sprout, it just means that more of the plant’s energy will be used trying to orient the root in the right direction.

It may also take longer for the tree to sprout as the root will take longer to grow downward into the soil. So even though it doesn’t matter which way you plant an acorn, it’s best to plant it with the pointed end facing down.

Planting Acorns: What You Need To Know

Oak acorns and leaves on the ground, taken in central Serbia

Now that you know which way to plant an acorn, how should you plant it to ensure that it actually grows? We’ve answered some common questions as well as gathered tips regarding the best way to plant an acorn to ensure that it grows into a mighty oak.

What Time Of Year Do Acorns Drop?

Acorns begin to drop off of oak trees during the fall, usually during late September and October. If you’re wanting to plant one or two, it’s best to collect them during this time as well, before squirrels, birds, and other critters begin to collect them.

When collecting acorns for planting, make sure that you only choose ones that have dropped off of the tree onto the ground. Avoid picking them off the tree. Acorns on trees are not yet ready to plant.

Make sure that any acorns that you collect off of the ground are brown in color and not green. Double-check them for holes and cracks as well before collecting them since damaged acorns may not sprout as well.

Do Acorns Need To Freeze Before Germinating?

Acorns do not need to freeze before germinating. Freezing them will kill them and they will not germinate at all. With that being said, some acorns do need to be exposed to the cold before germinating. But, it just depends on the species.

According to Iowa State University, acorns from White Oak trees should be planted in the fall after they are collected. After they are planted, they should germinate as long as they are planted correctly.

But, acorns from bur, pin, and red oaks need to be exposed to cool temperatures and moist conditions before germinating. Some climates will provide these conditions by just planting the acorns in the fall and leaving them outside for a couple of weeks.

If you live in a climate with mild winters, you can use a process called stratification in order to induce germination yourself.  Just place acorns from bur, pin, or red oaks into a container with a mixture of sand and peat moss.

Moisten the sand and peat moss, then place the container into the refrigerator for 30 to 60 days to induce germination. After the germination process, plant the acorns during the following spring.

Do You Soak Acorns Before Planting?

Acorns should be soaked before planting. But, soaking is not necessarily done in order to make the acorns germinate better or sprout more quickly. Rather, soaking is done in order to pick out the good acorns from the bad ones.

Before planting acorns, fill a bowl with water and let the acorns soak for 24 hours. Check the acorns after 24 hours and discard any that are floating in the water as these will not grow. Any acorns that didn’t float are safe to go ahead and plant.

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How Do You Bury An Acorn?

brown acorns on autumn leaves, close up

Before planting an acorn, determine whether you are going to plant it in a container or directly into the ground. You’ll get the best results by planting it in a container first. This will allow you to give it proper care as well as prevent it from getting dug up.

If you’re going to plant an acorn in a container, choose one that is at least 1 to 2 gallons in size. Make sure that the container has drainage holes in it. Drainage holes prevent water from collecting in the roots causing root rot.

Fill the container with dirt that comes from the same location where you intend to plant the tree into the ground. That way, the tree will have less acclimating with the soil to do when you do transplant it into the ground. You can mix the soil with compost or potting soil if you prefer.

When burying the acorn itself, you’ll want to place it in the soil at a depth of about 1-inch to 1 ½-inches deep. It just depends on the size of the acorn. Bury the acorn with either the pointed side facing down or by placing the acorn on its side.

Cover the acorn with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Then, move the container to an area where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade and water it thoroughly.

Let the acorn grow in the container for about 1 to 2 years before planting it in the ground. This will ensure that the tree becomes strong enough to survive in the ground by itself. The tree will also grow strong enough to hold up to wind and rain.

When you transplant it, it’s best to do so in the fall. This will allow the tree plenty of time to acclimate to its new living conditions before the colder winter temperatures set in.

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How Long Does An Acorn Take To Sprout?

a young oak sprout sprouting from an acorn close-up on a blurred green background.

As long as you followed the above tips and guidelines for planting the acorn, it should sprout in about 4 to 6 weeks.  Regularly water the acorn between the time it is planted and the time it sprouts.

If the area in which you live receives plenty of rain, it’s not necessary to stick to a specific watering schedule once the acorn has sprouted. You can water the acorn about once or twice per week during periods of drought.

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Closeup of Oak seedling sprouting from acorn in greenhouse tray

There is no right or wrong way to plant an acorn as far as which way up you plant it. If the acorn grows depends more on if it germinated properly and how it is cared for after being planted. But, if you want the acorn to grow as naturally as possible, then plant it sideways or with the pointed end down so that the main taproot can grow downward. Thanks for reading!

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