Growing Pines From Seeds: Next attempt

Unfortunately, my pine tree (or rather sapling) has died over the winter. I did some research and it seems that I did everything wrong that I could do wrong. NO direct sunlight! Use pine bark as soil.

I got eight new seeds on Ebay and followed the instructions here. Well, I tried. Of the eight seeds, I could only use two, because I smashed the others trying to open their shell. Oops.

But the remaining two, I put into the fridge for about 10 days and then onto tissue paper and they germinated after about a week. I didn’t check the calender, because I didn’t know I was going to write about it and I didn’t really believe I would be successful. But I was! See:

Pine Seedlings

Pine Seedlings

I couldn’t easily get proper pine bark without ordering online and I had to go to a hardware store/ garden center anyway, so I got orchid soil, which should come close to the required stuff. Fingers crossed for the two new pine saplings!

All Loquat Seeds Have Germinated

Today I discovered that the last loquat seed has germinated. That means that 100% of the 20 seeds actually germinated in a period between 30 and 56 days. Not too bad.

loquat seedlings

Loquat Seedlings

I had dumped the three I had germinated in vermiculture, but I still have 20 seedlings. How’s that, you might wonder. It’s because loquat seem to be polyembryonic, just like lemons. You might be able to see that with the one on the bottom right corner. Three seedlings grow from one seed there.

New Seeds: Pistachio

Finally, I could convince myself to get some pistachio seeds on Ebay. One might ask – why don’t you just buy them at the supermarket? – Easy: because those are always roasted and half of them even salted, so they won’t germinate. They were offered as “Persian Pistachios”, which basically means that they’re from Iran. Iran is the largest exporter of pistachios, as far as I know.

So, those are not actually Mediterranean, but pistachios are grown in Sicily, and that’s my excuse.

So I ordered 10, but actually got 12, which is always nice. I read about how to get them to germinate and just followed the instruction: Soak them in water of room temperature for 16 hours. I might have soaked them for 20 hours and the colour of their shell did actually change, as you might be able to see in the pictures:

As you can see, I used an empty ice cream container. They are very useful and it gives me yet another reason to buy ice cream.

After they had soaked, I put them in the remaining vermiculite and covered them up. I only used five of the seeds so far, in case they all germinate (they probably won’t), I won’t get too many.

There’s only as much water in the box as the pistachios had on them.

I also got new plant labels, of which I taped one to the box. Because I have other projects in other ice cream boxes and I will have forgotten which is which after a couple of weeks.

In the article about pistachio germination, I found the information that soaking the seeds in solution of 1 percent potassium nitrate might help the germination rate. I want to try that with cheaper seeds first. I still have seven pistachio seeds left for later trials.

First Medlar Seeds Germinated

I went away for the weekend and when I returned, four medlar seeds had visibly germinated! Yeah! I had bought fresh medlar loquat fruit a month ago, had eaten the pulp and put 17 seeds into ordinary soil and 3 into vermiculite.

Today, I checked again, and found that two seeds in the vermiculite had germinated as well. At least I think they’re two, because the roots are quite a bit apart. Also, another of the ones in soil had germinated. You can see the progress on the site for Germination periods.

PS: I just realized that those aren’t Medlars at all. They’re Loquats. The German name “Mispel” is sometimes used for both species, sorry.

Germination Period for Mandarin Pips Over

On March 5th, I had started a new project to determine the germination period for mandarins/ tangerines. I think all the pips came from the same mandarin, but I’m not sure any more, because there wouldn’t have been a lot of pulp in that mandarin: I had put 16 pips in vermiculite and 6 into ordinary soil. I wrote down 6 at the time, but now I have 10 seedlings, so it seems one seed yielded several seedlings.

mandarin seedlings

Mandarin Seedlings

It took them between 24 and 50 days to germinate. The seeds in vermiculite started germinating after 24 days and the ones in normal soil 33. The leaves look darker than the ones from the lemon trees.

EDIT:

I have re-potted the seedlings into single pots and it actually IS the case that one seed can yield several seedlings. There’s plenty of proof:

Battle of the Apples Day 18

Sad news first: Nothing has happened really so far. I was about to dump all the seeds, but decided to check on them first. This is what I found (after I had cleaned them up a bit):

There seemed to be no change at all in the Golden Delicious seeds, apart from one having vanished. I dumped them all. They still have a chance to germinate on the compost.

The Pink Ladies seem to make an effort at least, so I put them back into the soil.

To give the Golden Delicious a chance, I allowed for some re-enforcement (to stay with the war metaphor). Luckily, the Golden Delicious co-worker eats on of them a day, so I got two more seeds yesterday, which I sowed today. Maybe I can get more tomorrow.

Battle Of The Apples Day 1

Yesterday, I got 5 apples seeds of each of two of my co-workers. Co-worker A (his name starts with A, but I won’t give his full name) gave me 5 of Pink Lady and co-corker B (her name starts with B, see above) gave me 5 of Golden Delicious. I know it is off-topic, because those are not Mediterranean seeds, but I wanted to add more information to my table of germination periods.

So, to make things a bit more competitive (and to have a reason for posting about something more regularly and with little effort), I will have a battle of the apples until all 10 seeds have germinated. I will post photographs of their pots each day there is some development. According to the data I have gathered about Granny Smiths and Braeburn, it will be less than a week before the first sprouts appear.

So, there we go!

(Starting a battle on Valentine’s Day – why not. It’s about apples, some say the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve had. Makes me think of Paris’ choice as well…)

Germinated Apples Seed (Close-up)

Image

When I prepared a fruit salad for my sister today with apples (Granny Smiths), some of the seeds inside had already germinated. Is that common? I almost never buy fruit for myself, and I haven’t come across it before.

apple seed

Germinated Apple Seed

Apparently, they don’t have some chemical in their coating to prevent them from germinating like citrus fruits have. I will try to get the others to germinate, too, and grow seedlings. Just to add some information to my germination table. However, I will dump them after a while, because my goal was to grow Mediterranean seeds. I just can’t resist any seeds now. 😀

Some Thoughts about Seeds

Where to get seeds to grow trees from

Risking to state the obvious, I’m just going to say: Don’t buy seeds for trees that either grow in your neighborhood or you can buy fruits of. If you want to try and grow trees from local species, just go on a walk and collect them. If you are into bonsai, you might spot a nice example of an interestingly shaped tree which can inspire you on how to shape your bonsai tree. If you’re more interested in exotic trees, don’t go and buy seeds online. Go to your supermarket and buy the fruit. First of all, you can enjoy the fruit AND you get the seeds which makes it more of a holistic experience (without wanting to sound overly esoteric here). I imagine that when you try to grow trees with children, that it is an interesting experience for them as well to see where the seeds come from and what you can use them for. Obviously, this method only works for fruits, because with nuts the fruit IS the seed. Then just buy/ collect some more (hazelnuts, chestnuts), eat some and use the rest for breeding.

Here’s a table which might help you to find out when which fruit/nut is in season. Green means main season, yellow means low season:

Season Table for Fruits and Nuts

Season Table for Fruits and Nuts

Another argument for using seeds fresh from the fruit is that you might be more successful, i.e. you will have a higher germination rate. I could only compare dwarf pomegranate and pomegranate, because I had dwarf pomegranate seeds in my bonsai starter set and got a fresh pomegranate later, but I think the data speaks for itself (see table below). For some species, using fresh seeds might also have an influence on the germination period. But that would almost literally be comparing apples and pears, because I didn’t have seeds of the same species to compare.

Here are the results of my seeds – germination period of lemons*, pomegranates* and myrtle as well as germination rate.

Species
Latin name
seed or fruit used
no. of seeds germination period germination rate
Dwarf Pomegranate
Punica granatum nana
seed
31 10 to 33 days 23%
Pomegranate
Punica granatum
fruit
28 9 to 36 days 79%
Lemon
Citrus x Lemon
fruit (non-organic)
6 5 to 49 days 100%
Lemon
Citrus x Lemon
fruit (organic)
22 13 to 46 days 88%
Myrtle
Myrtus communis
seeds
32 12 to 34 days 31 %

* They might not be done germinating yet, I will adapt the table accordingly, when more seeds germinate. Temperatures above 21°C are highly recommended.

An overview of all seeds I got to germinate successfully can be found here (WIP).

Stratification

english oak seedling

English Oak (Quercus robur)

With some species, you will find that most texts suggest to use stratification to get them to germinate. As I have just put my medlar seeds into stratification and into soil, I cannot say whether it is really necessary in my experience yet. However, I have tried to get oak (Quercus robur) to germinate without stratification and it worked. I also don’t really believe that it is necessary for medlars, because they are much more common in the Mediterranean than North of the Alps nowadays and I doubt that they get three months of low enough temperatures. Anyway, we will see when my medlar seeds germinate (or not).