Growing trees from seed

Catalpa Bignonioides

At the beginning of Spring this year (2020) I was lucky enough to acquire a new greenhouse for my new garden.

Of course, I have used it to grow all the usual things – tomatoes, herbs, vegetable seedlings and annuals for the garden beds – but I have also used it for a longer term aim, growing trees.

I won’t claim to have articulated this to myself when I started this project, but growing trees from seed is an essentially hopeful act. And as I write in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic, it feels like the world needs more hopeful acts right now.

It is a hopeful act because of the time it will take for the tree to mature and because so much can go wrong to kill off the plant between sown seed and planted sapling.

And it is a hopeful act because it presupposes a future in which we have time, resources and conditions that allow us to nurture young plants and in which the plants can ultimately thrive on their own.

In volatile and complex times, we cannot predict what the future will bring, so in such environments it is usually helpful to focus on short term goals. If we can focus on short terms goals (e.g. keep a seedling watered and fed) that build to a hoped for future, then that seem to me to be so much the better.

The trees

In the video below I take you through how I have started off seedlings of Albizia Julibrissin and Catalpa Bignoniodes, two of my favourite trees.

Albizia Julibrissin is a deciduous Mimosa tree, with fern-like leaves and pink semi-bottlebrush like flowers in summer. In the UK where I live, it is a a well-behaved small tree and grows to about 4m. However, please note: in tropical/warmer climates the Albizia can be an invasive. It can grow huge, and often drops its branches, making it a danger to people, buildings, vehicles etc.

Albizia Julibrissin
Albizia Julibrissin

Catalpa Bignonioides is a beautiful medium sized deciduous tree with large ovate pale green leave, which can be up to 30cm (1 foot) across. In late summer the Catalpa has panicles of stunning white bell shaped flowers (often with a hint of purple) followed by long, thin bean shaped fruits which give it its common name, the Indian Bean tree.

Catalpa Bignonioides
Catalpa Bignonioides (Image by Gerd Eichmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The video shows the seedlings at 8 weeks. I’ll add further updates as the time passes and, hopefully, the trees grow.

Growing trees from seed – video

Featured image by Wouter Hagens / Public domain

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