The Q&A Archives: Ash tree seed germination

Question: We just finished collecting seeds from an Oregon Ash tree. How can we successfully germinate the seeds?

Thanks for your continual help.

Answer: Glad we've been helpful to you in the past. Seeds from ash trees are difficult to germinate because they have a double-dormancy. That is, they need alternating cold and warm periods before they ripen enough to sprout. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply plant them outdoors and let nature do the work for you. If you want to try germinating them on your own, you'll need to subject the seeds to a process called stratification. This is used for seeds which respond to either heat or cold. Stratifying will break dormancy by copying the conditions these seed are normally subjected to. Most commonly this is a spell of cold similar to that experience in the winter but with more reliable results. A few seeds have a multiple dormancy, germinating in the second spring after ripening with a spell of warmth in between, for example Fraxinus (ash). Subjecting seed to a warm spell followed by cold can increase germination in the first spring. Here's how:

Place seed in a bag and keep in a warm place at 18-24?C (65-75oF) for up to 12 weeks, before giving a period of cold stratification.

Alternatively, sow in pots and place in a heated propagator for the required spell. Following this place in a cold frame for the winter.

Then, place seed in a clear plastic bag filled with moist but not wet coir, composted bark, or a mix of equal parts of the above with coarse sand, perlite or vermiculite and seal the bag.
Chill seed in a refrigerator, kept below 5?C (40oF) for four to 20 weeks, depending on the species.
Shake the bag periodically, and sow seed immediately if it germinates in the bag.

Hope this information is helpful!

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