A noticeable decline and physiological weakening of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) has been recorded in the past decade in lowland parts of Slovenia. The triggers were dry climate, unfavourable precipitation patterns and human influence that brought about changes in watercourses and water tables. Regeneration and future management of this tree species is therefore questionable. To define a critical groundwater table which would permit successful regeneration, planted and naturally grown seedlings were compared in two forests differing in the degree of decline and physiological weakness of adult pedunculate oak trees. Comparison of stomatal conductance and pre-dawn water potential (PWP) showed differences of seedlings between and within forest complexes. Stomatal conductance dropped below 100 mmol m−2 s−1 at PWP values below −1.0 MPa, while closure of stomata was caused by a PWP between −1.6 and −1.9 MPa. Increased water stress equalized photosynthetic yield in both natural and planted oaks below −1.4 MPa.