As I have written in my Bonsai Wishlist, medlar (Mespilus germanicus) is one of the species I want to grow as a bonsai tree. I had brought two seeds back from Turkey, but now that I have done some research I realized that I might have done it all wrong. Their seeds seem to need cold stratification. However, I had already sown those Turkish seeds and put into the mini greenhouse. I found the information that they might only germinate after two winters, so I will leave those in the soil and just wait. Having brought them from Turkey, they’re too precious for me to dump them.
Where to get Medlar Seeds
As you will be able to read on many websites, medlar trees have been more common until and including the Victorian Age. They can be found in the Mediterranean, though. But what if you want to grow them from seed and you neither live there nor do you go there regularly? Well, two possibilities: Either you are very lucky and there despite medlar trees not being well known anympre, there is one or even more near you. That’s how lucky I am, as I found out on this great (German) website Mundraub. I went there on my bike and got some. There was only one fresh looking medlar in one of the trees, two dried ones still in the tree and I found one which had fallen to the ground and started to rot. Gross, but helpful.
The other possibility is to buy them, obviously. I found some medlar seeds on Ebay, but there are also other possibilities to buy them online. If you want to buy medlar fruits instead, you might find them at larger supermarkets in autumn. I read that Turkish greengrocers have them sometimes. You might also try your local farmers’ market.
How to Grow Medlars from Seeds
First of all, at this point I can only repeat what I have read so far, as I have only started with medlar seeds. Several sources I read said that medlar seeds have a very strong coat and therefore need cold stratification (1-5°C). However, some sources say 12 month, some say only 3-4 month. Some say not at all. First you need to soak them in lukewarm water for 24-48 hours . Other websites add a warm stratification period of 8-9 month after the cold stratification, followed by another cold stratification of 3 month. These tips are all for dried seeds, I think. If you can get fresh seeds from a fruit directly from a tree, when the coat has not had the time to harden properly yet, it might work quicker.
I read in several German message boards that no stratification is necessary when you use seeds directly from fruits. I’m gonna go for that option, just soak the seeds for two days and sow them directly. The germination period of medlar seeds is 4-7 weeks, it said in one of the message boards. We will see…