Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Oak sapling died - but why?  (Read 7475 times)


  • Joined Sep 2019
Oak sapling died - but why?
« on: June 25, 2022, 07:15:14 pm »
Hi there I wasn't sure where to post this as I was surprised there wasn't a tree section but anyway here goes. I moved an oak sapling I found (about a foot and a half high) into a three foot deep makeshift planter for decorative purposes in the winter and it produced leaves fine this spring but now it seems to have died the leaves have all gone yellow and dry as a crisp. There is a multitude of weeds in the planter/ pot as well such as grasses, the one that looks like a big daisy and even some wheat which I haven't cleared and they haven't died.  I thought maybe the dry weather in the last few weeks may have caused the sapling to die but the fact that nothing else has died makes me wonder if it could be something else. Could dry weather do this?


  • Joined Jun 2017
  • Dumfriesshire
Re: Oak sapling died - but why?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2022, 09:12:05 pm »
I've tried doing what you've done with your oak sapling pretty extensively, albeit on open ground.

Some that I think are going to do well die, others that I have no confidence in surprise me!

Weed the surrounding area extensively and watering is a good idea.

Another thing I've been doing is collecting acorns and storing them in the cool over winter, these have only just surfaced in the past two weeks.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Oak sapling died - but why?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2022, 10:21:46 pm »
It is probably a mix of heat and drought.  The weeds have taken all the available moisture before it gets down to the tree's roots.  What is your planter made of? The soil in many pots and planters gets really warm and oaks, being forest plants, will not like that. Are there adequate drainage holes in the bottom?

Take all the weeds out, water the container thoroughly, not relying on rainwater which is never sufficient in a pot, then when the soil is well soaked, put a mulch of stones or wood chips on the top to slow down drying out. We had trees growing in the soil which appeared to die last year in the drought but this spring they popped up again as normal, so persevere with your oak.

I think what has happened is that your tree has not settled in to its new home yet but it is struggling to survive with so many weeds competing for moisture and food, light too.  Yes in a woodland trees have to compete with every other plant growing, but very few actually survive.  You need to give yours a fighting chance.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2022, 10:28:32 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

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  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
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Re: Oak sapling died - but why?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2022, 08:51:49 am »
Just a thought from an amateur - I assume the whole of the tap root was taken out with it?
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Oak sapling died - but why?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2022, 09:58:38 am »
I'm digging out Oak saplings from our fields to make it easier to mow- we have dozens and if left we would soon be living in a wood. We have very dry periods here and the reason these Oaks survive is a very deep tap root which draws water from far below the competing surface growth. Even a little oak will come out with a two foot root with some still left in the ground. Sounds to me like your Oak survived by growing new near surface roots and then couldn't stand the competition of the surface weeds?


  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Re: Oak sapling died - but why?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2022, 09:00:57 pm »
I've been  doing a lot of bonsai trees recently and I can tell you than by far the best time to lift up trees (both young and older) is late February and March. Same for replanting/re-potting of any trees or even house plants.
When you do it at that time (I.e. just before growing season starts and leaves start growing) you can trim the roots, branches etc and the trees are most likely to be fine.
When you have to replant trees in summer you should either de-foliate (remove most of the leaves) or trim the branches to make sure the roots (which will get damaged when  you are digging it out) can supply enough water to the entire plant. If you leave all the leaves/branches on the tree might not make it
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.


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