Scarlet Oak is an attractive American native tree that is naturally adapted to grow in dry, sandy soil conditions, making it the perfect choice for those kinds of gardens. Most large shade trees need richer soil, so the Scarlet Oak fills a special place in drier locations. It has typical glossy oak leaves, but unlike some other oaks it turns a beautiful shade of crimson-red in fall, rivaling the most beautiful of the common fall trees. So if you crave a beautiful fall tree, but have dry sandy soil that is not suitable for many other trees, plant a Scarlet Oak, sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
- Ideal shade tree for dry, sandy soils
- Spectacular scarlet fall color
- Long-lived and trouble-free
- Drought resistant
- Hardy anywhere in the country
This large tree makes a lovely shade tree for your lawn, a specimen behind smaller trees and shrubs, or even a tall screen that will be low-maintenance and spectacular every fall. This tree is a rarer type of oak that is not often available, but it is highly sought after by experienced gardeners looking for beauty, drought-resistance and low-maintenance shade trees.
Many shade trees need deep, moist soil to do well, so when we find a tree that thrives in sandy, drier soils, we want everyone to know about it. The Scarlet Oak is a native American tree that should be much better known to gardeners, since it is so easy to grow, low-maintenance and so handsome. If you want a shade tree for your lawn, the Scarlet Oak is a great choice. If you want to define the border of your property, a line of Scarlet Oaks is a beautiful idea.
Unlike other shade trees, once established it will not need water during long summer dry spells, even if you have sandy soil. This tree will always look attractive and make a wonderful fall display of the richest, brightest red, with every leaf turning pure scarlet. While the Red Oak thrives in the cooler northern states, the Scarlet Oak thrives where summers are hotter and drier, making it an ideal choice in these water-conscious times.
Growing Scarlet Oak Trees
The Scarlet Oak is so well adapted to drought that it actually grows best in drier, sandy soil, but it will also grow well in any ordinary soil that is not regularly wet. Although, like all Oak trees, it naturally has a variety of insects living in it, none of them are very harmful and in fact this tree does not suffer from the insect or disease damage that other trees can have. Since it does not need watering in dry weather it is a low-maintenance tree, needing no care once established and ready to thrive in your garden. This beautiful tree should not be passed over for something more common, since it is as easy as or easier to grow than many ordinary trees, but is much more beautiful, especially in fall.
If you want a garden of native trees, to avoid the risk of spreading unknown species into wild areas, then the Scarlet Oak is a great choice, since it is a rugged native American tree of great beauty that will add to the local ecology and enhance your neighborhood.
Care and Maintenance
The Scarlet Oak needs no pruning or trimming, although it can be trimmed if desired. It is better to allow enough room for it to develop naturally so that pruning is not necessary. Your tree will make a beautiful, upright and majestic specimen in time.
Planting Your Scarlet Oak
If you are planting your tree as a specimen, allow 20 feet clearance from buildings or the boundary of your property. To plant a screen of this lovely tree, allow 15 feet between the trees. To get the best results dig a wide, shallow hole about three times the diameter of the pot. Add some organic material like compost, manure or peat-moss and some bone-meal or superphosphate.
Place the tree in the center of the hole, put back most of the soil and firm it down well. Add lots of water and when it has drained away finish filling the hole with the rest of the soil. Water well every week for the first season and after that only when the soil becomes very dry. The Scarlet Oak is very drought resistant, making it a great choice in these times of water efficiency.
History and Origins of the Scarlet Oak
The Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) is native to Eastern America, from southern Maine to Oklahoma and south to Alabama. It grows naturally in higher and drier areas, often on the south side of hills, so it has a special adaption to drier soil that makes it an idea choice for sandy gardens. The leaves are glossy and rich-green in color, turning a uniform scarlet color in fall. They are large, three to six inches long, with deep lobes ending in a small bristle – the typical ‘oak’ leaf familiar to everyone. The separate male and female flower-clusters appear in spring on mature trees, but are very inconspicuous. Small acorns, up to one inch long, appear on older trees.
The trunk of your Scarlet Oak will be dark-gray to brown in color and attractively textured. This is a fast-growing tree that will shoot up two feet a year when young, soon making an attractive shade tree. The growth-rate will slow a little as your tree gets older, but in time it will pass 50 feet in height and may even one day reach 70 feet tall. So when choosing a location for your tree, allow enough room for its growth.