DIY Home Garden


How to Plant an Acorn to Grow an Oak Tree (4 Easy Steps)

Learning how to grow an acorn is an interesting family project for you and your little ones.

With only 4 simple steps, you only need patience to finally witness the once tiny seed grow into a mighty oak tree.


Let’s dive in. First things first… Let’s get this straight.

You’re going to grow only native oaks—from your locality—because that way, you’re sure the tree is well adapted to your existing growing conditions.

How to Plant an Acorn (step by step guide)

Let’s plant an acorn to grow an oak tree!

Growing an acorn, from sprouting it to planting the small oak sapling, is very hands-on. If you homeschool your children, teaching them how to grow an acorn is an essential science lesson.

How to Grow an Acorn Step 1: Collecting acorns for germinating

This is where your project ‘how to plant an acorn seed’ begins.

  • Whether you pick the acorns from the ground or tree, the best time to do so is when they begin to fall off in bulk. (Ignore the few early ones as they often tend to be of poor quality).
  • Depending on your location and the oak tree species, this can be around late September through early November.
  • Be sure to collect twice or thrice as many acorns as the desired number of oak seedlings—just in case a few fail to germinate—discarding those with caps still attached, the ones with holes and signs of rot or mold.
  • You can plant the acorns immediately, mainly if you’re growing the white oak species, as they sprout quite fast.
  • Otherwise, germinate them first so you’re sure of the viable number.

How to Grow an Acorn Step 2: Sprouting the Acorns

There are mainly three ways to sprout acorns; directly sowing in the ground, germinating in pots, or the fridge.

The Fridge Method (Requirements)

  • Plastic bag or container
  • Fresh, mature acorns
  • Marker pen
  • Paper towel (If possible, use the double sheets)


  • Write the date and oak species (if known) on the plastic bag.
  • Moisten the paper towel sheets by spraying them with water, so they don’t drench up.
  • Lay the moistened paper towel inside the plastic bag, then spread the acorns on it. Cover with an additional layer of damp paper towel. Ensure the acorns don’t touch each other to avoid tangling and breaking the roots once they form.
  • Put everything in the fridge, leaving the plastic bag open slightly for ventilation.
  • Check on the acorns every couple of days, re-moistening the paper towel as needed.
  • Look out for any changes. If viable, the white oaks may sprout within a week or so.
  • Put everything in the fridge, leaving the plastic bag open slightly for ventilation.
  • Look out for any changes. If viable, the white oaks may sprout within a week or so.
  • The red oak acorns, on the other hand, may take weeks or months. Unlike the white oaks, you must allow them some period of cold stratification to enhance the germination process.
  • Plant your sprouted acorns in a pot once the roots are one to two inches long.
  • You may as well plant the sprouts in the ground, but for obvious reasons, consider potting them first. Only transfer from the pot to the ground once the seedlings are 1-1 ½ feet tall with several leaves.
  • With pots, you can quickly devise protection measures (for instance, a wire cloche) to help protect the acorns and the tender seedlings from predators, plus also relocate the plant as needed to meet its growing needs.

How to Grow an Acorn Step 3: Planting Your Sprouted Acorns in the Pot

What You’ll Need

  • Potting mix
  • Your sprouted acorn with roots, 1-2 inches long
  • A sizable pot (a foot deep and at least one-foot wide) with sufficient drainage holes
  • Small trowel


  1. Fill the pot with fresh, moist potting soil, leaving at least one to two inches from the top.
  2. Use the trowel to make a hole (approximately ½-inch to an inch deep) in the potting mix.
  3. Carefully place in the sprouted acorn with the roots aimed down to the pot’s bottom and the shoots upwards—in case you already have the shoots protruding.
  4. Cover lightly with potting soil, very gently pressing the soil in place.
  5. Irrigate if needed for additional moisture.

Cautions When Sprouting an Oak Tree from an Acorn:

  • Be very gentle with the seedling to not break or mishandle the delicate and sensitive tap root; otherwise, you’ll lose the plant.
  • Whether or not to grow your potted seedling outdoors (at this point) will depend on your timing.
  • Acorns that sprout in the fall—just before the season’s first frost—can be kept potted outdoors throughout winter.
  • Just ensure they’re safe from marauding animals and stay consistently moist until the temperatures dip to freezing points.
  • As the frost date closes in, consider insulating the pot to prevent the plant from freezing.
  • You can also mulch with a few inches of straw to help keep the moisture levels in check.
  • Monitor the soil regularly and irrigate as needed during the winter season.
  • Remove the mulch when it gets warmer in the spring and resume regular watering.
  • But what if the acorns sprout mid-winter or early spring? In this case, you may have to grow the potted seedling(s) indoors for a while.
  • Be sure to sit the pot in a sunny spot until the last frost, keeping the contents moist.
  • Initiate gradual exposure to the outdoor elements around the last spring frost—for about a week or two—then finally keep the plant outdoors full-time.
  • Regularly inspect the pot’s underside for the root system. Once it begins to pop out through the drain holes, it’s time to relocate your oak saplings to their permanent location.
  • Note: Don’t wait until the roots grow out of the pot’s holes into the soil below, as it may lead to severe root damage.

How to Grow an Acorn Step 4: Transplanting Your Seedling into the Ground to Grow an Oak Tree

  • At this point, your plant is approximately twelve inches tall with several leaves.
  • Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball and the pot.
  • Add organic material to enrich the soil and improve drainage.
  • Remove the root ball carefully and gently set it in the hole, leveling the root crown with the soil surface.
  • Fill back the soil and tamp firmly then water thoroughly to help settle the roots.
  • Apply mulch; however, leave a two-inch space between the tree trunk and the mulch.
  • Consider adding a mesh guard to shield the tree from potential damage and predators. This is crucial, at least for the first three years.
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Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Children How to Grow an Acorn and Watch It Grow Into an Oak Tree

There you have it, how to grow an acorn to grow into an oak tree.

It’s simple with little-to-zero care needed.All you have to do is to keep the plant hydrated until the root system is well established and you transplant it. During any times of drought, they’ll need a sip of water as they strengthen and grow–offer them one.

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