Oak tree collecting

ChiefWiggum

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Hello, I'm in San Diego and have a few acres of oak trees. Not sure what kind, whatever grows naturally here. How well do they respond to collecting to turn into bonsai and what time of year is most appropriate to do so? Thanks
 

sorce

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Chief...if these are your acres...

I'd collect one at each full moon till you find out which season is best.
Likely starting Soon, does it cool a bit for fall? Bout a month before then sounds good.

S
 

BrianBay9

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There are several California native oaks and most can make great bonsai. I have several, but should say I have not collected any yet. Traditionally, collecting is best done just before an aggressive growth season. For most trees that means very early spring. In parts of California that can also mean end of summer before a fall growing spurt. If I were in your circumstance I'd try collecting a couple in October, and then again in Jan/Feb. Get as many fine, feeder roots as you can manage. Put in a free draining soil in a container just big enough to contain the roots you've managed to collect. Keep moist but not sloppy wet. I hear that California live oaks will often drop their leaves after collection, so don't give up on them too soon. Join the San Diego Bonsai Club. I'd bet there's someone there with oak collecting experience who would love to swap experience for a collecting site.

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.
 

Hack Yeah!

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I collected a small oak in December last year, it's doing fine. I completely bare rooted and sawed off the taproot.
 

Vance Wood

Lord Mugo
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I collected a small oak in December last year, it's doing fine. I completely bare rooted and sawed off the taproot.
In all honesty people that go out to collect trees do not usually go after "Small Trees". I am not trying to be argumentative just accurate. A young tree can and will tolerate treatment that might kill a mature older tree.
 

BrianBay9

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I'm guessing that collecting oaks east of the Mississippi is significantly different than collecting western oaks. I wouldn't assume you should treat them the same. Again, no personal experience though.
 

ChiefWiggum

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There are several California native oaks and most can make great bonsai. I have several, but should say I have not collected any yet. Traditionally, collecting is best done just before an aggressive growth season. For most trees that means very early spring. In parts of California that can also mean end of summer before a fall growing spurt. If I were in your circumstance I'd try collecting a couple in October, and then again in Jan/Feb. Get as many fine, feeder roots as you can manage. Put in a free draining soil in a container just big enough to contain the roots you've managed to collect. Keep moist but not sloppy wet. I hear that California live oaks will often drop their leaves after collection, so don't give up on them too soon. Join the San Diego Bonsai Club. I'd bet there's someone there with oak collecting experience who would love to swap experience for a collecting site.

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.
thanks for the advice, sounds good, I'll go through and decide what to collect in October
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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In all honesty people that go out to collect trees do not usually go after "Small Trees". I am not trying to be argumentative just accurate. A young tree can and will tolerate treatment that might kill a mature older tree.
I can vouch for that being true. After the 5-8 year mark, when oaks start to bark up, they don't take this the right way. They will produce suckers, but the trunk and everything "aged" above ground will just die back.
 

ChiefWiggum

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I can vouch for that being true. After the 5-8 year mark, when oaks start to bark up, they don't take this the right way. They will produce suckers, but the trunk and everything "aged" above ground will just die back.
I have a lot of new trees, about 2 ft high that I'll start with
 

Gsquared

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I’ve heard that California live oak is temperamental in the summer and needs soil on the drier side. I had one for a while when I lived in SF but ended up killing it over time. My club sensei said it was from too much water in the summer. If you live in SD out know how much rain falls from March to November!
 

ChiefWiggum

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I’ve heard that California live oak is temperamental in the summer and needs soil on the drier side. I had one for a while when I lived in SF but ended up killing it over time. My club sensei said it was from too much water in the summer. If you live in SD out know how much rain falls from March to November!
Ok, thanks for the advice, I'll pick a couple out to collect and wait until spring I think
 

PaulH

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I've collected both Coast Live Oak and Interior Live Oak. These are the easiest to collect successfully. Other California species are much more difficult. I've learned that you will get a much better survival rate if you completely defoliate the tree when collecting. Both species bud back very vigorously so I'm mainly looking for a good trunk when choosing a tree to collect. Larger trees (3" - 8" dia. at the base) have more stored energy than saplings and of course can become bonsai sooner. Small feeder roots near the base are what you want, if they're not present don't dig the tree. If you have feeder roots you flat cut the tap root leaving only the small roots. Plant in a good draining soil, I use straight pumice and keep moist. It'd also important to keep the trunk humid. I often cover them in a clear trash bag and keep them shaded until they bud.
 

BrianBay9

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I've collected both Coast Live Oak and Interior Live Oak. These are the easiest to collect successfully. Other California species are much more difficult. I've learned that you will get a much better survival rate if you completely defoliate the tree when collecting. Both species bud back very vigorously so I'm mainly looking for a good trunk when choosing a tree to collect. Larger trees (3" - 8" dia. at the base) have more stored energy than saplings and of course can become bonsai sooner. Small feeder roots near the base are what you want, if they're not present don't dig the tree. If you have feeder roots you flat cut the tap root leaving only the small roots. Plant in a good draining soil, I use straight pumice and keep moist. It'd also important to keep the trunk humid. I often cover them in a clear trash bag and keep them shaded until they bud.
Paul, thanks for that great information!
 

ChiefWiggum

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I've collected both Coast Live Oak and Interior Live Oak. These are the easiest to collect successfully. Other California species are much more difficult. I've learned that you will get a much better survival rate if you completely defoliate the tree when collecting. Both species bud back very vigorously so I'm mainly looking for a good trunk when choosing a tree to collect. Larger trees (3" - 8" dia. at the base) have more stored energy than saplings and of course can become bonsai sooner. Small feeder roots near the base are what you want, if they're not present don't dig the tree. If you have feeder roots you flat cut the tap root leaving only the small roots. Plant in a good draining soil, I use straight pumice and keep moist. It'd also important to keep the trunk humid. I often cover them in a clear trash bag and keep them shaded until they bud.
Great info, I'll let you know how it goes
 

Wulfskaar

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I watched a video of a guy from San Diego that collects Coast Live Oaks between November and February. He said that they are "asleep" or dormant during this time and it's when he's had his best successes.
 

BrianBay9

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I've now collected eight coast live oak of various sizes. I took them from December 2019 through January of this year. It looks like all have survived although some are definitely doing better than others. Some were collected with feeder roots and some with almost nothing. All were potted in pumice and defoliated after collecting. @ChiefWiggum how did your collecting go?
 

Potawatomi13

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I've now collected eight coast live oak of various sizes. I took them from December 2019 through January of this year. It looks like all have survived although some are definitely doing better than others. Some were collected with feeder roots and some with almost nothing. All were potted in pumice and defoliated after collecting. @ChiefWiggum how did your collecting go?
You don't mess around;).
 
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