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Trees from seed

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Danux
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Trees from seed

Postby Danux » Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:00 am

Over the years, I've gotten into the habit of collecting tree seeds in autumn & spring, germinating them for spring planting, mostly just to see if I could do it. My approach has been pretty consistent (except for Bur Oak) - I collect the seeds, store them over winter (or collect in spring as they drop), then put them between two moist sheets of paper towel, place that in a freezer bag in a south-facing window, and let them do their thing. The spring seeds (Black Poplar & American Elm) respond well, the germinated seeds can be plucked from the towel with tweezers and root readily in peat pucks - the Black Poplar fluff & its delicate seedlings make it challenging, but you usually get a huge supply of germinated seeds to work with. Box Elder/Maple also germinate well, after autumn collection & winter storage. I collected some Green Ash seed late last year, still on the tree, and they are by far the hardiest seedlings I've ever germinated - they put out a strong root fast, can be separated from the towel easily, and take to peat pucks like a weed. I'm inclined to make them the primary tree in my firewood forest.

I'm having trouble/concern with a couple of types, new to me, this year. I was fortunate to find a single Paper Birch catkin last autumn, prized it away, germinated the seeds next to a bag of Green Alder, recently. Both had fairly low germination rates - the Alder catkins looked pretty old, so I was just happy that any of them started. I transferred the living ones over to peat pucks and put them in the window, but I'm getting almost no growth from them. They don't appear to be perishing, but I'm not really seeing any growth either. More so in the Green Alder. The Paper Birch seem to be showing a bit of progress, so I guess they are slow growing at first, but they seem to shoot up quite fast in nature, I guess I was expecting to see them do the same in a controlled environment.

I also have/had a bunch of evergreens. Colorado Spruce, and I think Balsam Fir. I can get these seeds to germinate, but almost all the seedlings have died on me. I transferred them from their towels to peat pucks, like all the others, kept them in a Jiffy started greenhouse, like all the others, but I'd say 80% of them withered away within a week or two of planting. Kinda disappointing. I mean, I still have some, and they seem to have made it "over the hump", believe they'll last until I can sow them in the ground, but a LOT of germinated seeds just dropped dead, most after growing a bit.

Does anyone know if evergreens need special conditions, after germination, in order to thrive? Also, is the slow early growth, on my Poplar & Birch, a common thing?

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Last edited by Danux on Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Danux
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Re: Trees from seed

Postby Danux » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:15 pm

So, had a few successes, a few failures. The Paper Birch & Green Ash all came on strong, once they rooted in. Unfortunately, they got flooded out once, and that pretty much did the Ash in. The Birch weathered it just fine, though. Both were subjected to drought-like conditions, for a short period, and seemed to handle it OK - recouped once they were watered again. So, although the Green Ash seemed to start like weeds, they were susceptible to excess water. I believe the appropriate way to grow them would be to germinate them and then stick them in the ground. Barring any local flooding, they will probably do just fine on their own. I've got the Birch tucked away for the winter, I suspect they might do OK in the ground as well, once they've gotten their feet under them, but I didn't see that happening until mid/late summer, so I'll be transplanting them next spring.

The Evergreens were hit and miss. They seemed to sprout, then stop growing above the ground. I am assuming they are putting out roots at that point. The ones that survived appeared to get a fair amount of water. These did not fare well with a dry planter, and I'm told lots of water is key to growing them from seed. So, the few of these that made it through the summer in the window, will also go in the ground next spring.


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Danux
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Re: Trees from seed

Postby Danux » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Have had some good success with apple crabs. Was given a bunch of apples from family and friends, a few different types, all excellent fruit. Harvested the seeds, germinated them in the fridge in early spring, and grew them in pots for a year, transplanted them on year two in spring.

The thing with Canadian grown apples (and pears), you have to be aware of, is that most types are grafted with hardy trees/roots, and the seeds you harvest will revert back to the root stock. So, while you may be taking the seeds from a Norkent or Kerr or Ft.Mac Mac, they will have almost certainly been grafted on to a Dolgo or Siberian crab. The root stock are necessary, if you want to grow other types, because you need a root stock hardy enough to survive winter, to graft to if you are going to perpetuate the preferred apples. It would serve you to have a stand of Dolgos or Siberians, as a supply of root stock.

There's plenty of information on line about the process & tree types, but I thought it was worth mentioning in this thread.

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peppercorn
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Re: Trees from seed

Postby peppercorn » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:19 am

Yes there is lots of info on line, and I have followed some regarding growing apples from seeds and am having a huge failure rate. Describe how you are germinating and growing your apple seeds.
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Danux
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Re: Trees from seed

Postby Danux » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:40 pm

Well, I place the crab seeds in a moist towel, in a plastic freezer bag in the fridge, for germination. This takes quite a while, weeks IIRC. Once the root has come out a decent length, say, 5mm or so, I have been hydrating peat pucks, and placing them in those mini Jiffy greenhouses. I tear an opening in them, drop the germinating seed in, cover, and put the clear plastic cover on. Make sure they get plenty of sunlight, warmth, and stay moist (don't drown them).

Once they're well past the two-leaf stage, getting close to touching the clear cover, I transfer them to tall narrow planters, filled with potting soil. Again, keep the soil moist, not wet. My first round, I left them in their planters for the summer, put them outside, brought them in for winter, kept them out of light in a cool garage, let them hibernate, keeping the soil just damp enough to keep the roots from drying.

They came back earlier than I'd hoped, the following spring, so I kept them in a window and watered them, transplanted them in May in an are that collected and drained water, soaked them thoroughly every couple of weeks.
They rooted well last summer, I'll see this spring if they lasted the winter.

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Re: Trees from seed

Postby peppercorn » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:36 am

Danux wrote:Well, I place the crab seeds in a moist towel, in a plastic freezer bag in the fridge, for germination. This takes quite a while, weeks IIRC. Once the root has come out a decent length, say, 5mm or so, I ha

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I have been doing just that, using paper towels, kept moist in the fridge, 100% failure this year. Ill just have to keep trying. I may have bad seeds.
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Danux
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Re: Trees from seed

Postby Danux » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:10 am

That could be. I don't recall the percentage of seeds that failed, but 100% failure tells me the seeds hadn't developed, possibly. They should be nice and plump. I can't remember off the top of my head, but I believe I washed them in rainwater and dried them on a towel, before putting them in the fridge in dry towel in autumn.

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