Growing trees from seed – part 2
In the second part of this article on growing trees from seed, Steven Meyen, Teagasc Forestry Development Officer, will provide a couple of examples of how to grow some popular trees from seed successfully.
Growing trees from seed is a bit like cooking a meal – you're following a ‘recipe’ that works for you. Although each tree species may have particular requirements for successful germination, you will discover that particular ‘recipes’ work better for you. Below are a few ‘recipes’ that work well for me which you may like to try out.
Collect acorns from September to November. You can expect abundant acorns every two to five years. Discard the first acorns to fall. You should be able to find and collect many acorns once there has been a frost. Do a float test and discard the acorns that float, have been nibbled or are damaged. Sow immediately one acorn per milk carton. Push the acorn on its side into the compost at least to a depth of your thumb’s nail, cover with compost and protect.
Beech mast is dealt with similar to oak but don’t sow as deeply as oak.
Collect the haws in September or October once the berries are fully ripe. That means that the berries should have a nice deep even red colour. Macerate to remove pulp from seeds, then mix the seeds with composted bark and sand and carry out a controlled temperature treatment (see part 1 of this article).
This means that if the haws were collected in late September for instance, then store the haws warm for the month of October into early November and then chill until late February in time for sowing late February / early March.
Gather the beautiful glossy, bright-red berries in August or September before they are fully ripe.
Store in plastic bags until partly rotten. Then separate seed from flesh by washing. Sow immediately and cover with 2cm of soil. Germination is likely to be erratic.
In part 1 of this article I said that September is a good time to collect tree seed. However, wych elm is an exception to this rule as the winged seeds need to be collected in the spring (usually in May).
Sow immediately, cover the seeds lightly with compost and keep moist.
Scots pine tends to have a good seed year every other year. Collect cones from November to February before they open. Place the cones in a paper bag in a warm room (20-22°C) until they open and the seeds drop out. Shake the bag once in a while. Store seed in a sealed container in the fridge.
In late January / early February, mix the seeds evenly with medium and return to the fridge to chill. Sow late February / early March covering the seeds lightly and keep moist.
Growing trees from seed is very satisfying and makes fantastic personal gifts to family and friends. Why not celebrate the birth of a child or remember a loved one by planting a tree you grew yourself from seed?
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