Growing Live Oak as Houseplant
On a recent visit to Florida, I collected Live Oak acorns to bring home to my squirrels. Several of them have root sprouts and I'm curious to try my hand at growing them indoors (I'm zone 5b). Any suggestions?
I've read acorns require a chilling period before germination occurs; is this spontaneous sprouting specific to the Live Oak? What a fun question. I think this type of curiosity and experimentation is what makes gardening fun for so many of us. The live oak (Quercus virginiana) is a type of white oak and reliably hardy in zones 8 through 10 but you may find some surviving in zone 7. The white oak group (these typically have rounded leaf lobes) tend to send roots out in the fall. This makes fall planting right after harvest preferable. Pot up the sprouted acorns in a deep container filled with a moist well-drained potting mix. These oaks tend to form a tap root making transplanting more challenging. Keep the potting mix moist and cool. In spring you can move the pot to a warm sunny (or under artificial lights) location to encourage shoot growth. Move your oak tree outdoors for the summer. In fall you can move it indoors in a cool room or sheltered area where temperatures do not drop below 20 degrees. Consider contacting your local bonsai society for tips on keeping this potentially giant tree a manageable size and alive in your home.