Why plant Audubon® Native Swamp Chestnut Oak Treeling?
Swamp Chestnut Oak may not be as famous as its White Oak or Red Oak brothers, but it is everything you want in an oak tree. Long-lived, tall, symmetrical, and sturdy, this majestic shade tree is a legacy tree that future generations will cherish. Your local wildlife will be grateful to you for planting it, too—especially the birds, who will forage in its canopy for the myriad insects that dwell there. Tanagers, titmice, chickadees, warblers, gnatcatchers, and vireos are some of the birds that depend on the caterpillars and other creatures that native oaks provide.
Swamp Chestnut Oak is primarily a tree of the southeastern states, though its range does extend northward into Illinois and New Jersey. It is not a denizen of swamps per se, but prefers well-drained bottomlands that may flood temporarily. In these rich sites, it grows fairly fast and very tall, becoming one of our largest native Oaks. Swamp Chestnut wood is hard and durable, and in the past, it was used frequently in forging wagon parts and railroad ties. The wood also splits into strips readily, making it ideal for making barrels and baskets. Thus, the tree is also known as “Basket Oak.”
How to use Audubon® Native Swamp Chestnut Oak Treeling in the landscape?
Wildlife like squirrels, foxes, turkeys, and blue jays appreciate the large acorns of Swamp Chestnut Oak. Livestock relish them as well, and in the South, this species is known as “Cow Oak.” You may like the acorns, too! They are sweeter than other acorns and don’t need any treatment to be edible.
Hardiness Zone: 5-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native Swamp Chestnut Oak Treeling
Plant your Swamp Chestnut Oak in an area where it will have lots of elbow room and will receive full sun all day. It is not fussy about soil; clay soil is super. Although Swamp Chestnut Oak is native to wet—even flooded—spaces, it does not need to be grown in a swamp. Well-drained soils of average moisture levels are fine. You will want to be sure to irrigate regularly during the first couple of years of establishment, however. 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, Swamp Chestnut 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 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.