Growing Tree Seeds
Have you tried to grow a tree from seed? It is really strange, if you plant a seed from a native tree in a pot in the spring and wait for it to grow you will be very lucky to get anything to grow. I hear you say ‘But native trees just grow on their own in the countryside so why not in a pot?’
The secret is to plant the seeds in the autumn just like acorns or conkers falling off a tree and getting buried. Then moisture soaks into the seed coat, freezes and thaws a few times. This breaks the dormancy of the seed and it germinates. This is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that seeds do not sprout in the autumn only to get frosted in the winter before they are hardy. A tree germinating early in the year has all summer
to grow into a strong plant before the next winter.
So you plant a few tree seeds in sandy compost in the autumn/winter and leave them outside to get frosted, then keep an eye on them in the spring. As soon as they get started plant them out or pot them on, as they grow very quickly and sooner than you think you will have a tree.
If nothing comes up do not despair just leave them alone, they sometimes take two or three winters to get started. However if you see a few seed coats strewn about, a mouse or squirrel may have found a them and had them for lunch.
An alternative way to break the dormancy or stratify them is to mix the seeds with damp sand in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. Taking it out to thaw for a day or two then putting it back a few times seems to help simulate winter frosts. Then plant the mix in a seed tray and wait for the results. Pretty soon you will have your own little forest.