Growing a Shrub or Tree from Seed the Natural Way

Have you ever tried to start a tree from a seed? It can be a very rewarding activity. Tree seeds, though, typically require more preparation than a lot of other seeds from flowers or vegetables.


The easiest way to start a seed is through the natural way. To do this, you can either sow seeds directly into the ground in the fall or assist the germination process through planting the seed in a pot and keeping it indoors until it is ready to be transferred outside.


Of course, for many thousands of years, seeds have been sprouting and trees have been growing all over the world. The “natural” seed germination for trees is to just let nature take its course. When sown in the fall, most seeds from any plant will start to germinate the very next spring. You will need to plant them at the recommended depth. If you plant the seeds too deep, the germination process may be delayed or not happen at all. There are some varieties of seeds that will spread the germination out over several years, while others may germinate in the first spring. Some seeds just take longer to break their dormancy and germinate.


Many species of trees were originally grown in climates that were cooler, where the seeds would drop to the ground and be covered by the fall leaves. Throughout the winter, the seeds would remain covered in this cool and moist environment. When the warmth of the spring weather would arrive, the seeds would begin their process of germination. The embryo inside of some seeds is immature and not able to germinate until it can mature in this manner (called dormancy). This delay in the process of germination is imperative for the tree species to survive. If the seeds in a natural forest were to germinate immediately when they fall to the ground in the late summer or fall, the seedlings would likely die during the cold of the winter weather.


Regardless of how you prepare your seeds to plant, the important thing is to plant them. By everyone working together to plant more trees, the environment and the people in it will all benefit.

Caring for Trees in the Winter: Cold Stress

Winter weather can take a toll on trees all throughout the northern states of North America. For species that are native to the colder regions, this can still be a stressful time. The weather can be particularly stressful for the more isolated and expose trees in the residential landscape. Some of the stress the trees face is completely unavoidable. We cannot control the climate we face. There are some things we can do to minimize the damage caused by cold stress, though.


Cold stress can be seen in many ways. On mature trees, the main effect comes from the change between the heat in the daytime the freezing at night time. The variation in temperatures causes stress within the tree between the inner wood in the outer bark that leads to cracks. This is called southwest injury or frost cracking. There is usually little that can be done to prevent this problem. In most cases, the tree repairs itself. The area that is cracked remains vulnerable and any future cracking it happens at the same place is more likely to cause major damage. With younger trees and those considered tropical, the owner should wrap the bark of the tree in the fall. There are cold weather tree blankets available specifically for this purpose.


Another issue with cold stress is when there is an early frost on growth that is late. When a tree has late growth, it is vulnerable because it has not had time to prepare for the cold. The cell walls can be ruptured by ice crystals that are growing on the new tips of the branches, causing them to die in the next season. To keep this from happening, you should wait to prune after the tree has become dormant in the fall. If you pruning too soon, new growth will be encouraged and will increase the risk of damage from frost. Also, never use the fertilizers that come with the quick release nitrogen in high amounts. With proper fertilization in the fall, your trees will be benefited, but it is important to know what you should and should not use on them.


Hopefully these tips will help you your trees healthy during the cold of winter. Cold stress can be a huge issue with trees, but by taking preventative measures, you can protect your trees.