Patience, patience… how long does it take tree seeds to germinate?

This seed could be from the largest tree on earth

I bought a pack of mixed conifer seeds from Chiltern Seeds, always a favourite company of mine, and they come in a large packet containing literally hundreds of seeds – enough to reforest the whole of Devon, I’m sure.

There’s a technique involved in successful germination of tree seeds called stratification, those who use it will say it is reliable – to the uninitiated it sounds complicated.

Some seeds, particularly those of hardy trees, shrubs and alpines, require exposure to moisture and low temperature to break dormancy – Chiltern Seeds

How to make the seeds think they have gone through winter:

Step 1. Soak seeds in rainwater

Step 2. Place seeds in a clean tub on damp tissue

Step 3. Leave in fridge for six weeks

Step 4. Remove from fridge and examine daily for signs of germination

Step 5. Carefully pot up any germinating seeds

Chiltern themselves point out that some trees will need to go through this process, designed to mimic winter, twice – because in nature the seeds could sit dormant for years.

Seed size has nothing to do with the final size of the tree.

What I find fascinating is the scale of the seed shown in this image, it could well be a Sequoia, Red Wood, or other massive tree. Sequoias are particularly known for having tiny seeds like this one.

I sown grass seed over a week ago… now, where’s my bowling green?

Another aspect of seeds that delights is somewhat fear-based. Will it even work?

I recently leveled my front garden, creating a usable flat space as a terrace, rather than the rough landscape it used to be, it really was an extension of the rough grazing that can be seen on this side of the River Dart, and somewhat an embarrassment.

I’m naturally drawn to the path of least resistance and also a little impatient, so as soon as the terrace was flat enough I was out there sowing grass seed. The birds have never been so happy.

Loads of seed seemed to ‘float’ to the surface the local flock of House Sparrows seemed to triple in size – I wasn’t expecting any good results, I simply didn’t believe it would happen.

So good to be wrong! The weather was perfect, heavy showers for my entire week off.

And here, after just over a week is the fledgling lawn.

It’s a wonderful thing growing things from seed, a beautiful expectation followed, with luck, by a beautiful plant… tree… or lawn. Take a look at Chiltern’s ‘Lottery Mixtures‘ which offer amazing value for the adventurous grower.

As Chiltern would say, why don’t you grow something new from seed?

Leave a comment