I have an interesting project going on. I was visiting the 911 Memorial site in NYC last fall. There are many swamp oaks planted on the grounds, and in the footprint of where the twin towers stood. The acorns were plentiful while I was there so I picked up a handful with the idea to grow my very own liberty tree from the 911 site. I went online, learned how to get the acorn to sprout. SUCCESS! I have 3 swamp oaks in 6 inch pots. They are about a foot tall with anywhere from 3 to 6 leaves. Very healthy looking leaves, but very skinny twig-like stems. I have a grow light on them for about 8 hours a day. My question is: What's next? I want to plant them outside in the spring. I've read a lot already about how to go about it, but lots of different opinions, and none for a swamp oak going in the gound in Connecticut. Any suggestions? What month? Soil prep? Watering schedule?
Swamp oak trees like a cold dormant period, preferably below freezing. For this reason, and also because of light, most people start the acorns outside. But because your trees were started inside and it was February when you asked the question, it would have best to plant them in spring, after danger of frost is passed. Planting tree seedlings is fairly straight-forward:
Don't put them deep enough to bury the root flare.
Dig a wide enough hole that the root ball is not squeezed.
Don't let the root ball break.
Tamp the soil well after planting.
Water well until established in the new ground.
Try to locate them in an area with as much sun as possible
I have now transferred them to 6 gallon buckets using potting soil with Miracle grow.
The trees will not do well in six gallon pots long term for these reasons:
Unless you made holes in the bottom, the buckets won't drain. Even a swamp oak will eventually die in a bucket of mud.
Oak trees build a large root system very fast. It is best to plant them into the ground quickly, rather than to move them into larger containers.
I used to raise and sell oak trees (small nursery). I started them in flats, and when they were 6-10" tall, I would pull them apart and plant in 3 gal. pots, or a deep nursery bed (for bareroot trees). I gave them about twenty supplemental inches of rain (I naturally get 40-60" of natural precipitation/year), spaced evenly through the dry periods.
Oak trees are resilient, especially the small ones. I would recommend that you get those trees into the ground as soon as possible.