How to Grow English Oak

English oak tree in middle of field with wide reaching branches on top

The Spruce / K. Dave

In This Article

The English oak (Quercus robur) is a stately tree best known for being part of the forests and landscapes of England. It is a large species that is more commonly found in public settings like parks, though it can certainly be grown in larger home gardens if you have space. This oak tree species may live for hundreds of years. There are also columnar varieties available so you can have the look of English oak in a much narrower space.

Oak trees are classified into different groups within the genus. Quercus robur is considered to be part of the white oaks. This slow-growing oak is also considered to be the type species, making it the best example of the oak tree genus. It is best to plant an acorn between mid-fall and early spring; the acorn will germinate in four to six weeks. An English oak grows at approximately one foot a year.

Botanical Name Quercus robur 
Common Names English oak, pedunculate oak
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 40–60 ft. tall, 40–60 ft. wide 
Sun Exposure Full 
Soil Type Loamy, moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral to acidic, alkaline 
Bloom Time  Spring 
Flower Color  Green
Hardiness Zones 5–8 (USDA) 
Native Area Africa, Asia, Europe 
Toxicity Toxic to people and animals

English Oak Care

As with other oak tree species, it is not easy to transplant the English oak since they form a long taproot. The best option is to start an acorn at your planting site. Varieties are propagated through grafting to ensure that their distinguishing characteristics stay true.

The English oak does not grow very fast and usually will not need much, if any, pruning as it will naturally create a pleasing shape over the years. Proper maintenance should include the removal of any parts of the tree that have become dead, damaged, or diseased to help the tree stay healthy.

The mature size for most trees will be 40–60 feet tall and wide, though in the wild it can be over 100 feet tall. In its early years, it has a pyramidal shape. Over time it will form into a round shape. The leaves may turn brown in the autumn and may not fall off until winter.

English oak tree against blue sky in front of other trees

The Spruce / K. Dave

English oak tree branch with green acorns underneath large leaves

The Spruce / K. Dave

English oak trees in middle of field with green grass and blue sky with clouds above

The Spruce / K. Dave


The English oak grows best in full light, though it can tolerate some shade.


Quercus robur is able to tolerate a range of soil pHs from acidic to alkaline. For optimal growth, find a location with soil that stays moist but still provides good drainage.


English oak trees prefer occasional irrigation. They can, however, tolerate relatively mild drought.

Temperature and Humidity

This tree is not temperature or humidity sensitive, though it is best suited for zones 5 to 8. The tree can grow in sheltered spots in zone 4, though freezes can be damaging or even deadly.

English Oak Varieties

You will need an extra-large yard if you wish to grow one of these oaks. They also are used in public gardens and parks.

  • Fastigiata and Skyrocket are columnar varieties that spread up to 15 feet wide, making it possible for more people to plant Quercus robur in their landscapes.
  • Pendula has branches that create a weeping form.
  • Filicifolia and Dissecta bear leaves with a lacy look as the lobes are deeply divided into many narrow sections.
  • As the name suggests, Variegata features leaves variegated with a cream color.
  • The Atropurpurea and Purpurea varieties boast stunning purple leaves.
  • Concordia offers golden-hued foliage.

Common Diseases

This oak tree species is noted to be resistant to sudden oak death at this time. The biggest problem English oak faces is the unattractive presence of powdery mildew. Anthracnose can also be an issue in wet conditions, causing leaf drop. Regular fertilization will help to combat canker diseases. Some possible diseases that do not need to be treated include shoestring root rot, leaf blister, and leaf spots.