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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 Aspen Poplar, recently. Both had fairly low germination rates - the Poplar 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 Aspen Poplar. 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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Danux
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:55 am
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Canada

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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