Why plant Audubon® Native Chinkapin Oak Treeling?
Although Chinkapin Oak is not well known among people, it is beloved among birds. Its acorns—highly nutritious and palatable even by human standards—nourish many avian species, helping them build up reserves for carrying out their fall migration or for surviving the winter in place. Jays, woodpeckers, flickers, and many others feast on the sweet morsels. Songbirds, too, appreciate Chinkapin Oak for the small insects they find feeding on the leaves. Finches, sparrows, cardinals, and titmice are grateful visitors in the Lower Midwest, where this handsome native reigns supreme. A true friend to wildlife wherever it is grown.
Although Chinkapin Oak is rarely planted, it’s not because it’s some new, exotic discovery. Chinkapin Oak is native to the U.S., from Wisconsin to Vermont and south to New Mexico and South Carolina. Its range also extends into Mexico. Nowhere is it a dominant tree, but it is most plentiful near the center of its range—along the Ohio River, in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. In years past, its wood was used in those states to build fences, and later to fuel the steamships that traveled up and down the Ohio River.
How to use Audubon® Native Chinkapin Oak Treeling in the landscape?
Blue jay buffet! Chinkapin Oak acorns are possibly the sweetest-tasting of all acorns, and they’re a hit with blue jays, squirrels, chipmunks, and all sorts of wildlife. They’re edible for humans, too, if you want to give your trail mix a twist (you can roast them first or eat them raw). This species is one of the most precocious Oaks (producing its first acorns at a young age), so you won’t have to wait forever to start getting those sweet snacks.
Hardiness Zone: 5-7
How To Plant Audubon® Native Chinkapin Oak Treeling
Plant Chinkapin Oak in a site where it will receive all-day sun. Clay soil is no problem. Alkaline (high pH) soil is also acceptable, which is unusual for Oaks. Many Oaks, particularly the popular Pin Oak, will turn chlorotic (yellow) on alkaline soils, but Chinkapin Oak often grows on those types of soils in the wild and is perfectly adapted to them. Little pruning will be necessary, but if you must prune, do so only between December and February. The fungal disease Oak Wilt can strike when Oaks are pruned during active growth. A member of the White Oak Group, Chinkapin Oak is less susceptible to Oak Wilt than members of the Red Oak Group, but it is still vulnerable.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water slowly and thoroughly. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late fall. If planting in the fall, use Elements fertilizer while planting and start your regular annual fertilizing the following fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established as it gives your tree the nutrients it needs to produce lush new growth for the following spring.
How To Prune
A young tree may need a little extra support to ensure that it lives a long and healthy life. Stake your new Treeling with a 6-8 foot tall wood or bamboo stake. Use expandable ties that will stretch as the tree grows, fastening the stake to the main trunk from the base to the top. Check the ties every few months, at least twice a year; ensuring the ties are not digging into the trunk. If there is any sign of this, take the tie off and reattach it, giving the tree more room to grow.
As your tree grows, remove a few of the lower branches each year in mid to late summer. Remove these lower branches before they reach 1/2 inch in diameter. It is better to make small cuts to avoid cutting a large, more mature branch - this is too stressful for the tree. Each year, make any corrective pruning needed, paying particular attention to removing damaged branches, rubbing branches, multiple leaders at the top, or suckers at the base. Limit any pruning to no more than 25% of the branching structure in a given year. Pruning benefits the tree and helps to achieve a balanced tree form.
After two or three years you can feel free to remove the stake from the tree.