How To Start Your Tree Seeds

Posted by Chris Mueller on

Let’s get your tree seeds ready for Winter with a tutorial on scarification and stratification from Christopher of The Incredible Seed Company, on set in our tiny off-grid kitchen.

In this video tutorial, Christopher will walk you through the specific needs of these three tree seeds:

Using these three types of seeds means we can demonstrate all treatments your seeds may need:

  • Scarification
  • Soaking
  • Cold Stratification
  • Warm Stratification

 

Scarification

Kentucky Coffee needs scarification. After the seed dries, it hardens and doesn't allow water to penetrate, and so has a hard time getting started. You can use sandpaper to scuff up that hard seed coat - just rub each seed on the sandpaper a few times, just enough to help it along. 

Be careful not to go too deep with the sandpaper; you don’t want to damage the inside of the seed.

The next step with the Kentucky Coffee tree seeds is to soak them in water for 24 hours. Put your seeds in a container (something you already have around) and add water to cover them.

24 hours later, your seeds will be ready to plant outside or in pots.

 

Soaking

Some tree seeds, like Shagbark Hickory, will require water soaks and some will not; some will require hot water, and others room temperature water. You'll find all of the information you need on the seed packet.

 

Cold Stratification 

Cold Stratification is a period of cold a seed must go through to signal that Winter cold has passed and Spring has come and it's time to wake up and grow. 

Shagbark Hickory needs a water soak and a cold stratification period of 120 days. Soak seeds in a container of water for 4 days or 96 hours, changing water every 24 hours. Drain off the water. 

Next, you’ll coat the seeds in damp substrate - peat moss, vermiculite, or garden soil. (There is no need to sterilize your soil; Nature is not sterile and neither are your seeds.) Your substrate should be damp when you squeeze it in your hand, but not soaking wet.

Add soil to your container of seeds, cover container and put in the fridge. Check your seed packet for information on how long the cold stratification period needs to be.

It’s very important that we leave the seeds in the fridge for the full amount of time, or they may not wake up.

In four months, the seeds will be ready to plant outside or in pots

 

Warm Stratification followed by Cold Stratification

Manchurian Apricot requires a warm stratification period followed by a cold stratification period.

This warm stratification period simulates the end of summer when the fruits would be rotting on the ground.

Add moist peat or soil to a container with seeds and give it a shake to coat seeds. Then, put them in a warm place in the house, 15-25 degrees celsius, for 60 days.

Follow this 60 day period with a 120 day period of cold stratification, in the fridge.

 

Remember to always label your seeds with the name and dates!

 

Some notes about mould

It's important to keep an eye out for mold during the warm AND cold stratification periods

It's normal for the surface seed to rot a bit, but keep mould in check. If you do see it, and it isn’t too bad, you can wash it off with water. If it is severe and blue or green in colour, soak seeds in a 10% bleach solution for five minutes or so, then wash with water. 

Add new moist substrate and return container of coated seeds to cold or warm stratification place.

 


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