Can You Grow Oak Trees Indoors? (species, location)


Can You Grow Oak Trees Indoors

One of the most common tree species out there is oak trees. While these are incredibly common, being found in every country in the northern hemisphere, one thing you don’t hear too often is growing oak trees indoors. So can you grow oak trees indoors?

You can grow oak trees indoors. However, it is not recommended because oak trees can grow up to 100 feet tall and spread just as wide. That means you’ll need a lot of space to accommodate an oak tree. Aim to grow an oak tree in a pot or as a bonsai for best results. 

Growing an oak tree indoors is probably not a good idea for a small living space.

So let’s dive into the pros and cons of growing oak trees indoors and some tips on growing them indoors if you decide to go ahead.

Can You Grow Oak Trees Indoors?

To get to the bottom of if you can grow an oak tree indoors, I got in touch with my local botanical gardens and even surveyed five plant paladin readers who currently grow oak trees. 

You can grow oak trees indoors. You will need to provide them with plenty of sunlight and water, and they will need a large pot to grow in. Oak trees can be found for sale at most garden centers.

You will need to water your oak tree regularly, which will need a lot of sunlight. Make sure to place it in a bright spot in your home. You will also need to fertilize it every few months. 

Oak trees are very resilient and can tolerate many conditions, so you should have no trouble keeping them healthy.

If you live in a cold climate, move your oak tree to a warm spot in your home. Oak trees are not frost-tolerant, so they must be kept in a warm, protected spot. Greenhouses work well for this, and general living rooms with large windows. 

I would, however, avoid keeping them in a garage which can get particularly cold during the winter, 

With proper care, your oak tree will thrive indoors and provide you with years of enjoyment.

To Summarize:

  • You can grow oak trees indoors, but it is not recommended.
  • For better growth, keep oak trees in a bright place with enough sunlight.
  • Make sure the pot is large enough.
  • If you water regularly and add the proper fertilizer every few months, oak trees can survive indoors for many years.
  • The best option to grow an oak tree indoors would be to grow an oak bonsai. 
  • These miniature trees will allow you to easily manage an oak tree indoors without worrying about the requirements of a full-grown oak tree. 

Can You Grow Oak Trees Indoors - infographic

How Can You Successfully Grow An Oak Tree Indoors?

You can successfully grow an oak tree indoors by taking a small oak tree and potting it in a well-drained pot. In this section, we will go over the step-by-step process of how to pot an oak tree.

Choose a Suitable Pot

First, you need to choose a big pot for the roots of your oak tree. The pot should also have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out.

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the tree, the more holes you need. 

how to drill holes in bonsai pot

Aim then for at least two penny-sized holes to start. 

Fill The Pot With a Well-drained Potting Mix

Next, fill the pot with a well-drained potting mix. You can either buy a potting mix from a garden center or make your own by mixing equal parts of sand, peat moss, and perlite.

Alternatively, should you be growing an oak bonsai, consider an inorganic mix of volcanic ash rock and akadama. 

Potting Soil For Bonsai Trees - what good soil needs

Plant The Oak Tree In The Pot

Carefully remove the oak tree from its current pot and plant it in the new pot. Make sure to firm the potting mix around the roots of the tree.

 Leave some space at the top of the pot for watering.

If growing an oak bonsai, ensure you tie the oak bonsai to the base of the pot via wire

Water The Oak Tree

Water the oak tree thoroughly and then allow the potting mix to dry out before watering again. Oak trees prefer to be drier, so water them sparingly.

If growing a bonsai, only water when the topsoil is dry. Consider using rainwater or filtered water for the best results. 

Place The Pot In a Sunny Spot

Place the pot in a sunny spot indoors and keep an eye on the leaves of the tree. If the leaves start to turn yellow or brown, it is a sign that the oak tree is not getting enough light. Move the pot to a sunnier spot.

For best results, I like to place my potted oak near a south-facing window. 

This provides more theme and enough light in the summer months. 

With proper care, your oak tree will thrive indoors!

As a side note, if you want to learn about Oak Bonsai and how to keep them indoors, this article may be helpful.

What Oak Tree Species Work Best Grown Indoors?

American white oak, red oak, and live oak are the best oak species to grow indoors. They can be frown indoors both as traditional trees and as bonsai.

Here’s a table comparing 10 of the most popular oak trees and if they can be grown indoors or not:

Species

Can be Grown Indoors?

American white oak

Yes

Red oak

Yes

Live oak

Yes

Pin oak

Yes

White oak

Yes

Swamp white oak

Yes

Bur oak

Yes

Chestnut oak

Yes

Post oak

No

Black oak

No

How Big Will An Oak Tree Become If You Grow It Indoors?

How big an oak tree will get when kept indoors depends on many things, like the pot size, the soil condition, and whether the tree is getting enough nutrition and sunlight.

If an Oak tree is kept indoors in a large enough tank of 30 gallons and proper care is taken, it can grow up to 6 ft. But you will need to transplant it outside as the roots will not get enough space to grow.

If you keep an Oak tree in a larger pot, it will get bigger. But it will be more difficult when you plan to plant it outside.

You can keep the regular Oak tree indoors for about 3 – 5 years. After that, you might need to shift it into a bigger pot or transplant it on the ground. Otherwise, the roots will stop growing, and the tree will eventually die.

I recently wrote an article about how tall an oak can grow at different ages. You can check it out here.

Is this realistic? 

While you can grow a traditional oak tree indoors, the likelihood that you will have a tank large enough to grow an oak tree to 6 feet tall, with enough sunlight, water, and temperature requirements, is unrealistic. 

Instead, I recommend that if you want to grow an oak tree indoors, you opt for an oak bonsai tree. 

These will be much easier to manage and be much more moveable than growing an oak tree to 6 feet tall. 

Advantages of Growing Oak Trees Indoors

There are a lot of benefits to growing oak trees indoors. Many people believe that oak trees are some of the best trees to grow indoors. Here are some of the advantages of growing oak trees indoors:

  1. Oak trees are straightforward to care for.
  2. They are adamant and resilient, meaning they can withstand a lot of abuse and thrive.
  3. Oak trees are very slow growing, so they will not quickly outgrow their pot or location indoors.
  4. The leaves of oak trees are huge and provide a lot of shade, which can be beneficial in hot climates.
  5. Oak trees are very aesthetically pleasing and can add beauty to your indoor space.

Disadvantages Of Growing Oak Trees Indoors

There are a few disadvantages to growing oak trees indoors. They are:

  1. Oak trees can get huge, eventually outgrowing their indoor space.
  2. They need full sun to thrive, so they may need to do better indoors.
  3. Oak trees can be messy, so you must be prepared to deal with fallen leaves and acorns.
  4. Oak trees can be susceptible to pests and diseases, so you must be vigilant about keeping them healthy.

Things to Consider When Growing Oak Trees Indoors

The tree’s size will dictate the pot it will need. A 12-foot tree will need a pot at least 2 feet in diameter, while a 20-foot tree will need a pot at least 3 feet in diameter.

The potting mix will need to be well-draining. A mix of two parts perlite and one part potting soil is a good option.

The tree will need to be watered regularly, but the soil should be allowed to dry out between watering.

Fertilize the tree every two weeks during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer.

The tree will need to be pruned regularly to keep it from getting too large for the pot.

The Difference Between Indoor Oak Trees And Oak Bonsai

The main difference between indoor oak trees and oak bonsai is that indoor oak trees can grow to become full-sized oak trees, while oak bonsai are miniature versions of oak trees.

Here’s a table describing the key differences between indoor oak trees and oak bonsai:

Indoor oak trees

Oak bonsai

Can grow to become full-sized oak trees

Miniature versions of oak trees

Grow best in full sunlight

Grow best in partial sunlight

Require deep watering once a week

Require shallow watering several times a week

Fertilize monthly

Fertilize every two weeks

White oak

Yes

Swamp white oak

Yes

Bur oak

Yes

Chestnut oak

Yes

Post oak

No

Black oak

No

Growing oak indoors vs. oak bonsai – what is better? 

In almost all situations, I recommend that if you want to grow an oak tree indoors, I will choose to grow an oak bonsai instead of a traditional tree. 

While both will start the same, a few years later, an oak tree will grow much larger and more unmanageable than oak bonsai. 

Growing oak trees indoors is only feasible if you live in a mansion with large windows and high ceilings. 

In comparison, oak bonsai trees can easily be kept at a size of 30 cm to 1 meter and can very easily be trimmed and maintained to be kept at this size. 

The chances of your oak tree dying is also much higher as it will be much more challenging to maintain the direct sunlight a giant oak tree will require indoors. 

Especially when compared to a bonsai tree which can easily use artificial grow light to assist them. 

Quick Tips For Caring For Oak Trees Indoors 

To care for oak trees indoors, make sure to provide them with the care and attention that they require. 

Here are some quick tips for you if you want to care for oak trees indoors:  

Give Them Plenty of Sunlight

Oak trees need a lot of sunlight. They prefer full sun, meaning they need at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Growing an oak tree indoors is probably not a good idea if you live in a place that only gets a little sunlight.

Check The Soil

Oak trees need well-drained soil. They will not tolerate soggy soil or standing water. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil or poor drainage, you should avoid growing oak trees indoors. Alternatively, try to procure better soil from elsewhere. 

Beware of Pests And Diseases

They are susceptible to several pests and diseases. These include aphidsscale, oak wilt, and powdery mildew. If you’re not prepared to deal with pests and diseases, you should try growing more resilient trees. 

Prune Them Into Shape

Prune them as needed to shape and encourage growth.

If growing oak bonsai, consider pruning where the branches begin to separate to add better branch ramification to the tree. 

Top view of directional bonsai trimming Trim a bonsai tree Trim a bonsai tree - new growth

Pruning should typically only be undertaken once per year to allow time for the tree to heal. 

Can You Grow Oak Bonsai Indoors?

Oak bonsai can be grown indoors, although it will be more challenging than outdoors. Oak bonsai need a lot of sunlight, so they should be placed in a south-facing window. They must also be kept in a cool room; below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

Can You Grow An Oak Tree In a Pot?

It is possible to grow an oak tree in a pot, but it is not recommended. Oaks need plenty of space to grow, and their roots can quickly outgrow a pot. If you grow an oak tree in a pot, choose a large pot and use a well-draining potting mix.

An oak bonsai is the best option for growing an oak tree in a pot. 

How Long Does The Oak Tree Take To Grow?

Oak trees take several years to reach their full size. As oak trees are slow-growing, you can expect them to reach maturity in 5-6 years. And reach their adult height in about 20 years.

Following these, oak trees can add about one foot of additional growth yearly. 

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on several factors, such as the species of an oak tree, the growing conditions, etc.

Check my recent article, “How Long Do Oak Saplings Take to Grow?” for more answers on this topic. 

Where Do Oak Trees Grow Best?

Oak trees grow best in locations that offer full sun and well-drained soil. That’s why they are most commonly found in woodlands, forests, and other natural habitats. 

So, if you want to grow an oak tree in your garden, choose a spot that offers these ideal growing conditions.

How Do You Grow Oak Trees Inside Your House?

You’ll need to start with acorns to grow oak trees inside your house. You can either collect them from the wild or purchase them from a nursery. Once you have your acorns, plant them in pots filled with a mix of potting soil and sand. 

Water the soil regularly and place the pots in a sunny location. In time, the acorns will sprout and grow into oak trees.

Survey results 

Finally, I didn’t just want to give my results of growing an oak tree indoors but get some of the readers of this site’s opinions too. 

As such, I undertook a quick survey to find this in more detail. 

To summarize: 

Can You Grow Oak Trees Indoors - survey results

Wrapping Up

That’s all we had to share with you about whether or not you can grow oak trees indoors. So, to answer the question: yes, you cannot grow oak trees indoors. But they need a lot of space, sunlight, and soil to grow.

We hope you enjoyed this article, and please feel free to share it with your friends or family if you found it helpful.

Thanks for reading this article. You should check out my article, Are There Male and Female Oak Trees

This post was written by Fehed Nicass, who has been passionate about bonsai for over three years.

Fehed Nicass

Fehed Nicass has been passionate about all things bonsai and botany focused for the past 3 years. What started out as a hobby has developed as a passion and he is now on a mission to teach and learn.

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