Tree & Shrub Seeds To Plant In Spring
In this article we're focusing on easy to grow Tree & Shrub seeds that don’t require the lengthy warm or cold stratification periods needed by many other woody perennials. These can be planted in Spring & include things like Goji Berry, Wisteria, Black & Honey Locusts, Alpine Strawberry as well as many others. Here's our complete list of Trees & Shrubs to Plant In Spring.
Having a Plan - WHERE TO PLANT
This really depends on when you want to start planting. If it's early Spring, the ground is still frozen & you're still getting hard frosts, we recommend starting these seeds indoors in pots. If it's later in the season & things have warmed up, then direct seeding in a nursery bed, or in a permanent location is a great option.
One exception is Wisteria. Wisteria is fast growing, needs strong supports & can get out of hand if you are not attentive. We highly recommend having a long term plan before planting Wisteria & starting these seeds in pots.
PLANTING YOUR TREE SEEDS IN POTS
Planting your tree seeds in pots is a great option if you haven’t yet prepared an outdoor space or if it's still early in the in the year. It can be very therapeutic to have baby trees growing in your home during late Winter!
The Appropriate Pot Size. Small seed = Small pot. Larger seeds, like Kentucky Coffee, do better in ½L pots. Using typical potting soil, fill your pots all the way to allow lots of space for root development.
Where To Keep The Pots. Keep your pots inside at room temperature until all risk of frost has passed.
Sunlight. Baby trees don’t need direct Sunlight in the same way annual vegetable & flower seedlings do. Although they do require some light, they are built to grow in the understory, so indirect Sunlight or dappled shade is just fine. You will need to rotate plants kept in windows to prevent legginess.
When will you see leaves? If you are used to planting vegetable & flower seeds, you may be surprised when you don’t see any primary leaves within the first few weeks of planting. Rest assured that there is lots of action happening beneath the soil. Most tree species develop a taproot before a stem. Depending on temperatures & other variables, shoots & leaves may take a few a few weeks to a few months to appear.
DIRECT SEEDING IN A PERMANENT LOCATION
Planting a tree in its final, forever home is hands down, the best way to do it. It requires less work from you & allows the tree’s root system to develop without interruption or injury.
When To Direct Seed For Tree & Shrub seeds that don't require stratification periods, we recommend waiting until all risk of frost has passed.
How many seeds? We recommend planting 3+ seeds in the same location & then thinning to the strongest sapling in the Spring of the second year.
Seeding Depth. Plant seeds to a depth equal to their size. A handful of the species we carry require light for germination. See individual packages or webpages for details.
DIRECT SEEDING IN A NURSERY BED
If you haven’t settled on a permanent location, are growing plants for another property or are developing your foodscape with larger amounts of seedlings, using a nursery bed is the way to go. A nursery bed is a densely planted, temporary in-the-ground space for you to house your perennials.
Everything discussed above applies to planting seeds in a nursery bed, with a few variations:
How many seeds? In a nursery bed, we recommend planting 1-3 seeds in the same hole, depending on expected germination rates.
Spacing: 6 inches between plants will ensure enough water & nutrient uptake.
Things to Consider
Whether you're planting your seeds in their permanent locations or in a nursery bed, there are a a couple important things to consider that will really help them along:
Rodents. It is imperative to protect your planted tree seeds (even after they’ve sprouted) from squirrels & chipmunks. We’ve seen them carry off three inch tall hazelnut plants! Heartbreaking! The best way to deter rodents from stealing your buried treasure is to secure framed, 1/2 hardware cloth over the planted area.
*It is important to remove the hardware cloth as the tree grows or it will girdle the stem; killing the tree.
Mulch. Directly seeded tree seeds grow best when exposed to consistent moisture. Two inches of mulch can help with this. We recommend using Ramial Mulch (new growth from hardwood trees) which nourishes the soil as it rots, instead of locking up nutrients. Sprinkling crushed, roasted eggshells or diatomaceous earth on top of the mulch will deter slugs. As your tree grows, move the mulch 3-4 inches away from the trunk to promote healthy bark.
The ideal time to transplant your seedlings into their permanent locations, either from pots or from a nursery bed, is in the Fall, just after the leaves have fallen. This is when the plant is entering its Winter dormancy & is a time of root growth.
For nursery beds, gently dig up & separate your plants, placing them root down in a bucket of water. For potted trees, remove the pot & gently loosen any pot bound roots.
Dig your holes according to the root span of each plant. Water the empty hole, plant your trees and deeply water.
If Autumn rolls around & you aren’t ready to plant your potted trees in their permanent location, bury the entire pot & then actually plant them in the Spring of the following year.
Well, we hope this article has offered you some food for thought. If you still have questions about planting Tree Seeds in Spring, don’t hesitate to reach out! xox