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Planting Honey Locust from seed

 
Nicholas Mason
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Location: Colton Or
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I got some Honey Locust seeds from my grandmother which I am going to plant in a food forest that I am starting. I have seen, read, and heard about adding certain bacterias to legumes and other nitrogen fixers to help them be more productive. I have not done much research in this area but have heard you want to use different bacteria's for different plants. 1. Is this wrong. 2. If it is correct does anyone have any idea what type of bacteria I should add with the Honey Locust.
 
Jordan Lowery
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nitrogen fixing plants only fix nitrogen because of nitrogen fixing bacteria, this is why people say to inoculate peas and beans before planting, the same goes with the locust. although you dont NEED it, it helps.
 
tel jetson
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if you can get some dirt from around your grandma's honey locusts, that should provide the microorganisms in question. there's no consensus about honey locust actually fixing nitrogen, though. the root nodules that generally indicate rhizobium symbiosis are absent from honey locust, so if it does fix nitrogen, it's through a different mechanism than other familiar legumes. certainly a useful tree, quite apart from the nitrogen question.
 
Cj Sloane
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I will be attempting to plant HL from seed this spring as well. You don't need bacteria but I believe it needs scarification.
 
tel jetson
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I've had good germination after scarifying with a file, then soaking overnight. seeds that swell get planted, those that don't soak a little longer until they do.
 
Nicholas Mason
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I guess to better clarify my question what exactly should i inoculate the seeds with. Also I heard that soaking the seeds in i think it was 120 degree water for about 30 min is supposed to help with germination. From what I read when using scarification you are supposed to put them in wet sand for 5 or 6 weeks in the fridge. Although if you are getting results just soaking over night I think I will try your way as well. I really wish I had a cow or horse that I could feed the seeds to and let them naturally plant them for me, but alas I only have goats. I read that sheep and goats actually digest the seeds.
 
tel jetson
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Nicholas Mason wrote:I guess to better clarify my question what exactly should i inoculate the seeds with. Also I heard that soaking the seeds in i think it was 120 degree water for about 30 min is supposed to help with germination. From what I read when using scarification you are supposed to put them in wet sand for 5 or 6 weeks in the fridge. Although if you are getting results just soaking over night I think I will try your way as well. I really wish I had a cow or horse that I could feed the seeds to and let them naturally plant them for me, but alas I only have goats. I read that sheep and goats actually digest the seeds.


I didn't inoculate with anything, and the trees are doing fine. if you do want to inoculate, I would suggest using dirt from near an existing honey locust rather than purchasing inoculant.

and there's a chance you're mixing up scarification and stratification. they're both methods of stimulating germination. scarification involves penetrating the seed coat physically, while stratification involves simulating seasonal changes by moist chilling for a period of time. in this case, scarification followed by soaking should be plenty. I used warm, but not hot water for soaking.
 
Nicholas Mason
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Location: Colton Or
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I get the difference, from my quick search online when I first got the seeds it only gave the two ways for germination, the scarification and then leaving in moist sand for five or six weeks and the soaking in real hot water for like twenty min. Now the fact that you can successfully do it in another way means the internet was some how wrong. go figure. I think I will try a bunch of the different ways. Its like how Sepp says if you don't try something you wont actually know if it works or not. (not an exact quote)
PS i really appreciate the information you guys provided me with, and so quickly. Thanks
 
Nicholas Mason
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I still would like to inoculate the seeds with something else. I would usually like the idea of using the soil from the parent tree, but my grandparents life on a golf course and I have little faith in what is in the soil.
 
tel jetson
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it certainly wouldn't hurt anything to use some commercial legume inoculant, and that stuff isn't too expensive. if honey locust does, indeed, host rhizobium, it isn't known which species, so an all-purpose inoculant would likely have the best chance of being helpful. or you could try a mix of several. might be worth looking around for honey locusts growing elsewhere, too, to get some dirt to use.
 
Nicholas Mason
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Thanks very good ideas.
 
Suzy Bean
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Paul and Jocelyn discuss Paul's CFL experiment and seed saving in this podcast.

Paul talks about seed scarification.
 
Cj Sloane
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Success!

I poured hot water (175°) over seeds and let them soak for 3 days. I planted the ones that swelled and changed color (no inoculation) and 3 days later I've got some shoots! I've poured more hot water over the unchanged seeds and they are swelling too.

Next question: when to transplant?
Should I go by size of the seedling or outside temps (wait for warmer nights)?

For the next round of seeds I may try direct seeding outdoors.
 
Cj Sloane
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To answer my own question - it seems you should transplant when they get to 4-6".

I recall a post where someone said they got a 90% germination rate on the seeds but most died after transplanting. Does anyone know who posted that? I'm trying to determine why the transplants died. I rarely seem to get the search engine here to work for me.
 
Yone' Ward
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Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
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We planted about 135 trees, about 80% survived the first year. We are still waiting for them to wake up this year to see if any live. We have them in plastic milk jugs with the tops cut off.
 
Cj Sloane
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Planted in the ground? What were the jugs for?
 
Yone' Ward
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Cj Verde wrote:Planted in the ground? What were the jugs for?
We planted them in dixie cups the first year, moved them to jugs the second year We'll put them in the ground this year.
 
David Goodman
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Congrats on the little trees.

Does anyone know if you can get Honey Locust to grow in N Central Florida?
 
Cj Sloane
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Here they are at 3+ weeks (or a month after soaking):
Honey Locust Seedlings></a>

About 90% germination. I got some seeds on the ground at a parking lot and some from a hike in NY.

I think I'll try a test transplant today.

Here's the range of HL from wikipedia:

I doesn't show Vermont or NY so you could give it a try in Florida since it does fine in Louisiana.
 
Cj Sloane
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Can anyone tell me when HL develops thorns? Age or height?
 
Anthony Anderson
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Location: Central Minnesota USA and Paris France
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I harvested these in mid october in paris france - I think they are hardy to zone four though - paris is warmer. Anyways, took them to the apartment, put a nail-file to them for about 15 seconds and soaked them. They got PLUMP. After sitting in a moist area for 2 day they popped tails. I was surprised how fast. No stratification needed whatsoever. I wouldnt mess with the water either unless you were doing more than 20? I am going to use these along with black locust and nanking cherries to create the edible fence around the property.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Bringing up an old thread, since I've got a bunch of honey locust seeds to plant. We are not in the natural range, but they do grow well here if watered until they are established. My seeds came from a couple of huge old trees on the grounds of one of the area schools -- the trees are at the edge of the gravel parking area, and it doesn't look like they get any extra water at all. I'd like to know how long the seedlings can stay in pots without damaging the taproots? I want to plant them on my other property, but need to keep them here for a while, as I am not living on the other property yet. (Not safe to plant stuff over there until I'm living there and can keep an eye on things.)

Kathleen
 
Cj Sloane
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Has anyone who planted honeylocust from seed gotten to the point where they are producing pods? I'm wondering how long it takes.

Most of the ones I planted 2 years ago didn't make it, probably eaten or stepped on by my free ranging sheep. I do have a couple hanging on but in hindsight I don't think the area gets enough sun. I've planted a bunch more from seed this year in a sunny paddock the sheep don't have access to.
 
Frank Turrentine
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I got a couple thousand HL seeds from Schumacher recently. I've got em in the fridge still, but I'm wondering why I can't just plant them now directly in the ground the day after xmas and not expect them to do just fine next spring. I figured I'd plant them the same way the tree does, more or less. But then it occurred to me that some seeds in nature pass through an herbivore before being planted, so I wasn't sure. My intention was simply to walk along on contour at the top of my property and simply poke a hole every couple of feet and drop a seed in. I would expect to see a line of little seedlings coming up in May or June, yes?
 
Cj Sloane
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With a couple thousand seed you could do an experiment of half now half later ...but they do need scarification.

If you want to direct sow, wait till May, then pour very hot water over them, wait at least 24 hours and plant the ones that swell.

The problem I had was protecting them against little critters. The seedlings must be very tasty.
 
Wyatt Brush
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It looks like I am a little late to the party, but thought that I would give my two cents worth anyway. I sprouted a few Honey Locust seeds last spring, but every sprout was eaten by mice. The mice loved them! I am hoping to try again in a couple of years, I have thousands of locally harvested seeds.
 
Cj Sloane
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Wyatt, I think if you're going to direct sow, you need to replicate nature and plant LOTS of seeds. I tried that with black locust and put branches over the ground where I planted the seeds to confuse/deter critters. I had some success with that.

I found critters even go after the 6" transplants I put out. The only ones that made it thu had serious protection.
 
Wyatt Brush
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I had my seedlings in a seed starter tray in the house! The house mice ate the seedlings! Of course, this house was completely vacant for about 4 years, and is in the middle of vast acres of pasture. We have caught literally dozens of mice in the house since we moved here last spring. I caught a couple of mice just by putting an unbaited mouse trap right next to the last seedling. For when I plant more Honey Locust seeds, about how big do the trees need to get, before the mice leave them alone?
 
Cj Sloane
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I'm guessing here, Wyatt, but I think it may be a matter of age instead of size. The "trunk" probably needs to firm up.

For starting in the house, I guess they'll need extra protection. I've had that problem moving starts into the hoop house, little critters would eat them unless very protected. I think I used clear plastic bins with 1/4" screen on top. You could do that in the house too.
 
Chaz Petersen
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I'm having poor germination rates with Honey Locust. I scarify at 190 F for 1-2 minutes followed by a 24 hour soak and they imbibe well and a few sprout within a day or two but 80-90% get a whitish, possibly green maturing crusty mold growing on them. The germination medium is coco coir, dry enough to not be able to squeeze water out. I've repeated this experiment twice and haven't seen better than a 10% germination. The same procedure worked well for black locust. however, the black locust only had ~50% imbibe from the scarification treatment but out of those that did imbibe, nearly 100% germinated within 3 days.

Any suggestions to improve my honey locust germination rates?

Thanks

-Chaz
 
Cj Sloane
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So you're planting the ones that swell and only getting a 10% germination rate? Could you post a pic?
 
Chaz Petersen
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The 2 on the bottom are untreated, the 4 on the left didn't imbibe and the others are either germinating or getting a crusty growth
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Cj Sloane
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Can't really see the crusty thing your talking about. No ideas for you except you can re-soak the seeds that didn't swell in hot water. Maybe try a different growing medium?
 
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