How To Germinate Acorns

Growing a tree isn’t a hard task, even if it hasn’t yet germinated. If you’re looking to begin germinating an acorn, there are a few steps you need to take. We’re here to walk you through the process of germinating an acorn for garden or bonsai use.

To germinate an acorn, you’ll need to buy or find acorns, a suitable place to grow them, and time. Growing any plant from seed takes time, one of the pleasures of gardening and growing bonsai trees. 

how to germinate acorns

Why grow a tree from an acorn?

Trees aren’t cheap, especially bonsai trees. As such, it’s often easier to grow your own oak tree at home. For many, this can become a hobby or an easy way to pass the time. The oak tree that grows from an acorn is both strong and beautiful, suitable for bonsai or regular gardens once germinated. 

Growing your own tree from a random acorn is cheaper than buying an already developed one. There are many reasons to germinate an acorn, but if you’re here, you probably already know why you want to grow an oak.

how to germinate acorns

How To germinate acorns at home

Germinating an acorn requires four simple steps over a few weeks. Once the roots begin developing, your oak tree is ready for planting in a pot.  

how to germinate acorns

Step 1: Get your acorn

Before you can germinate an acorn, you need to get one. In the wild, these are plentiful; if you’re looking to grow an acorn you’ve found on the ground, you’ll want to grab a few. Having multiple acorns will help you find viable, plantable ones. You’ll have enough to find a good seed if you’re planning to buy the acorns.

Avoid any acorn with small holes as these often have their seeds eaten by insects. Place your handful of acorns into a bowl of water. You should discard any floaters as they will not grow.

Step 2: A temporary planting

Take your viable acorns and plant them in containers with moist potting soil. The pot or container you use should be deep enough for root growth. Planting two acorns next to each other is possible, depending on the size. Around one inch of depth is suitable for the acorn to grow steadily.

Keep watering the plants for the next two to three weeks. The soil should be kept moist, nourishing the plant. The acorns don’t require water during winter but will again once spring comes. It’s essential to ensure the containers remain pets free.

Step 3: Watch for germination

After a few weeks, you’ll notice the acorn sprouting its roots and growing. If you’ve planted two acorns in one container, you’ll need to trim the weaker sprout. Don’t pull or remove it, as the roots are most likely already tangled. Doing so will harm both acorns. 

Once the seedling reaches five to six inches in height, it’s time to replant in a larger pot. This pot will be smaller if you’re growing an oak for bonsai. A standard-sized pot will work if you’re growing your oak for outdoor placement.  

The pots should have a mixture of potting and garden or bonsai soil. Adding slow-release fertilizer will keep the growing sprout well nurtured. 

Step 4: What comes next

When growing for the garden, you’ll need to consider a permanent location for the tree. Once the roots are near the pot’s drainage holes, it’s time for replanting. Dig a hole three times as large as your pot and plant the tree with well-draining soil. 

Water the growing tree frequently and ensure some mulch around the base. Protect the tree for the first three years with a mesh guard; you may need a stick to help it grow straight as it grows.

Keep the tree within its pot for bonsai use, watering as needed. When the roots occupy the put, it’s time to repot and trim. Shaping is best done during the tree’s early years using light wiring applied gently.

how to germinate acorns

Spread your roots

Growing an oak tree from an acorn is a rewarding experience. It’ll take years before the tree becomes large, but few words can describe the feeling of watching it grow. The most important step in this process is beginning and finding your acorn. 

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A newcomer to the bonsai world, Jarod Stengel aims to share his experiences with others. Having just one plant and plenty of research, the journey ahead is one to remember. He is looking forward to sharing his adventure with our readers as he applies his bonsai knowledge to his articles and real life.


Jarod Stengel


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