Need help with some oaks

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Northern Michigan
#1
I dug several native oaks (I live in N. Michigan) yesterday b/c they were free and going to be destroyed due to construction. Nice trees, good taper and root spreads, but I'm concerned about keeping them alive given that they were dug in August. I don't have much experience with oaks. Should I just throw them back in the ground, should I try to get them in boxes, can I truck chop or prune (they need both -- eventually), etc. The growing season up here is quickly coming to a close and our winters are long and snowy. I wouldn't worry so much about them if it were a little later in the year or earlier. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
 
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St. Francisville, LA
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#2
Oaks can be collected in August where I am, which is the Deep South. Not sure about Michigan. Your best chance of success is to put them in oversized nursery pots or grow boxes and provide suitable protection this winter. Don't overprotect, e.g., bring them indoors in a warm space. Just bury the pots and mulch over or use a cold frame if you have one. The trees should be trunk-chopped now, to a suitable height. Don't leave "extra" intending to re-chop later. Be sure to seal the chops.

Good luck!
 

M. Frary

Bonsai Godzilla
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Mio Michigan
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#3
Not sure where in Northern Michigan you're located but the native oaks don't work so well for bonsai. They are either going to be White or Red Oak. They have large leaves and long internodes. Also this time of year is not the greatest time of year to collect trees. Winter will be here in like 2 months. It's hard enough to keep trees in the spring collected through bitter cold.
I'm not trying to discourage you in any way. But there are much better trees in Michigan to collect for bonsai.
Elms.
Tamarack.
Hawthorn.
Scots pine
Jack pine
Just to name a few.
I live in Mio. If you're close we can get together and maybe dig some trees in the spring.
 

rockm

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#5
And what about Quercus robur – (English Oak)? I think those are the native here.
Quercus rober is ENGLISH Oak. It's not native to North America. It is sold in nurseries and has "escaped" into the wild here, but it can't compete very well with our native oaks.
 

Cypress187

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#6
Quercus rober is ENGLISH Oak. It's not native to North America. It is sold in nurseries and has "escaped" into the wild here, but it can't compete very well with our native oaks.
I don't live in North America, and I can imagine those english tree's are no match for american one's ;) But is it good for bonsai?
 

rockm

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#7
Well, yeah. English oak has been a bonsai subject for decades. Harry Tomlinson has, or had, a very good one twenty years ago. I'm sure there are hundreds around in the U.K and on the continent
Walter Pall has a few
http://www.bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/oak

And FWIW, I wasn't comparing its ability to compete based on nationality. There are over two hundred and thirty oak species native to North America. Europe has 22 native oak species. North America, for some reason, is the center of oak diversity on the planet.

https://w3.pierroton.inra.fr/QuercusPortal/index.php?p=BIODIVERSITY
 
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Location
Northern Michigan
#8
Not sure where in Northern Michigan you're located but the native oaks don't work so well for bonsai. They are either going to be White or Red Oak. They have large leaves and long internodes. Also this time of year is not the greatest time of year to collect trees. Winter will be here in like 2 months. It's hard enough to keep trees in the spring collected through bitter cold.
I'm not trying to discourage you in any way. But there are much better trees in Michigan to collect for bonsai.
Elms.
Tamarack.
Hawthorn.
Scots pine
Jack pine
Just to name a few.
I live in Mio. If you're close we can get together and maybe dig some trees in the spring.
Thanks for the thoughts and perspective. They are red oak, and probably won't amount to much more than practice trees. I'm really just getting into bonsai seriously, and am mostly still just gathering material so I have trees to work on. Would love to go collecting sometime. I live in the UP tho so not that close to Mio. Lots of great trees hiding in the forests up here.
 

Cypress187

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#11
Importantly, after potting each of the Oaks up, all 3 collected trees were then submerged in water for between 2 and 3 weeks.
Whoot, I can place them in water for 2 weeks?
 
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West Michigan. 6a
USDA Zone
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#12
M Frary is correct. Oaks are coarse...don't work that well really. In my collecting experience the pre- autumn time is okay for oak collecting...I've had better luck digging oaks in autumn than any other time actually. I take lots of roots in the digging. I leave the roots alone for at least the next years' growing season. I generally put the collected trees in large deep plastic pots so I can more easily move them around. I dig a hole and bury the pots, up to the pot lip, in the ground. Nature takes over for the winter. Where I bury the pots is usually wind protected in some way but still full light. Never inside...outdoors only. I have not found oaks to be good bonsai material...but still....I seem to want to collect interesting tree trunks. Most of my oaks eventually go right back to the open ground to grow as nature takes over.
 

rockm

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#13
I would be careful if you're collecting oaks in the U.S. based on Harrington's article. It's for the U.K. and a specific species (English Oak). That species has been introduced in North America, but there are a hundred or more species of oak here. Some are easier to collect than others. Some are better than others. Northern American oak species are harder to dig than most southern species. White oak (quercus alba) is harder to collect than Willow Oak (quercus phellos). Willow oak is arguably the easiest North American oak species to collect. It tends to have relatively shallow roots, while white oak and red oak tend to have massive tap roots to anchor them.
 
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on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
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#15
I have an experiment running in my back yard.

Bur oak - Quercus macrocarpa. It is locally native, has a huge native range, into USDA Zone 3, so northern collected material is super winter hardy. Bur oak has the roughest, heavily textured, coarse bark of any of the USA native oaks that I know of. Its rough bark, even on younger trees (only observed in the ground) and its extreme winter hardiness are the positive traits that attracted me. Down side, the leaves at least on young trees are huge, and branching is coarse and its most common habitats the soils are deep and tap roots are deeper still,

To get around the tap root issue, I picked up 3 seedlings, put them in separate 5 gallon nursery cans and let them grow. Right now is their 3rd summer, I have 5 foot whips, with no branching to speak of. Trunks are less than 1 inch diameter, so it is too soon to do anything. Once trunks are at 2 inches, I'll do the first chops. The pots winter on the ground, no other protection, they have come through 2 cold winters just fine.

If they ever look like something, maybe 2018 or 2020, I'll post a progression.
 
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#16
I have collected Oaks in november till march. Repot them in fresch soil mix. Before digging out check the rootbase dig out only trees with an excellent root base, if you are lucky you will find trees which a nice formed trunk. In area where animals live you can find ready bonsai trees but it takes a lot of searching. Sometimes after 10 mornings you will find nothing and I had a day I found three in a morning. Protect the new tree for frost but keep it cold.
 
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Eugene, OR
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#17
I dug several native oaks (I live in N. Michigan) yesterday b/c they were free and going to be destroyed due to construction. Nice trees, good taper and root spreads, but I'm concerned about keeping them alive given that they were dug in August. I don't have much experience with oaks. Should I just throw them back in the ground, should I try to get them in boxes, can I truck chop or prune (they need both -- eventually), etc. The growing season up here is quickly coming to a close and our winters are long and snowy. I wouldn't worry so much about them if it were a little later in the year or earlier. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Can please post some pics and something to see sizeo_O? There are 3 Q. rubra in my collection also but only about 4 years old. Biggest is starting to take shape. Below link to most excellent huge leafed Oak Bonsai.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daimyo_Oak,_GSBF-CN_115,_September_12,_2008.jpg)
 
Last edited:
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#18
I have seen a few in pots; grown from seed... but I hear they don't transplant well but I've never tried to say they do or don't... the leaf size keeps me away from them.
 
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West Michigan. 6a
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#19
Can please post some pics and something to see sizeo_O? There are 3 Q. rubra in my collection also but only about 4 years old. Biggest is starting to take shape. Below link to most excellent huge leafed Oak Bonsai.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daimyo_Oak,_GSBF-CN_115,_September_12,_2008.jpg)
Nice looking tree! Those big oak leaves don't seem to go away....although....when I was in Colorado, in The Garden of the Gods, near Colorado Springs, I saw many brush sized oaks with leaves only about 1" long. Perfect in every way...just very small. Must be the climate...lack of significant water...poor soil...or something.
 

M. Frary

Bonsai Godzilla
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#20
I hear they don't transplant well
They don't.
I don't fool with any oaks native to the region.
Like the maples around here they have too many drawbacks.
Big leaves that don't reduce to a suitable size. Long petioles , Long internodes.