The Q&A Archives: Seed Starting

Question: I realize that I have been asking you a lot of questions...the reason is I am a science teacher working on new and creative ways to bring nature into the classroom. Students have been bringing in seeds. Therefore, I thank you for your time and the expertize.

Here are a few more seed questions for you.
I am looking for the successful germinating process for the following trees:
Jacqmonte Birch
Korean Hornbeam
European Beech
Hawthorn - (Fireberry or Columbia)

Thanks again

Answer: I'm happy to hear you've turned to our website for practical advice for your classroom! Birch seeds need to be stratified before they will germinate. To avoid using up space with a myriad of pots during stratification, simply place about a tablespoonful of seed-starting mix, (such as Jiffy-mix or Redi-Earth) just moistened (not wet), in a plastic zip-lock bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator (not freezer) for at least 9 weeks, or until you're ready to grow the seedlings. Spread the mixture over a sterile seed sowing mixture that is moist, but not soaking wet. Cover with a piece of glass or plastic and place in a bright area, but not in direct sun. Do not cover the seeds with media. They need light to germinate. The seeds will germinate at different rates, but most will start to sprout about 2 weeks after you remove them to room temperature. Grow on in pots for at least 6 weeks after germination. Harden off before planting out. Germination in nature normally takes place in the spring following dispersal in the fall. The small seeds are sensitive to soil moisture and temperature. Thus shade usually favors germination and initial establishment by preventing seedbeds from drying out and reaching excessively high temperatures.

Hornbeam seeds can be tricky to germinate because they need alternating warmth and cold periods in order to break dormancy. Collect seed while still green, and wings are just starting to turn yellow. Sow seeds just on top of moistened seed starting mix; keep for 4 wks @ 70?F, then 3 months @ 39?F (a refrigerator works well), then move to 70?F for germination.

The seeds of hawthorn need to be scarified (nicked) to allow moisture to penetrate. They, too, need alternating heat and cold periods. Scarify, then sow atop moistened seed starting mix and keep at 70?F for 4 months; cool for 5 months (39?F), them move to 70?F for germination.

Beech tree seeds can be sown directly outdoors in the fall or give a 3 month cold treatment (39?F), then moved to 70?F for germination.

Best wishes with your seed starting ventures!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by cocoajuno and is called "Here's looking at you."