Hi, so I noticed there's several boxelder, gambel oak, and ashtrees near my house and I'd like to germinate the seeds but I see that I need to cold stratify them. Its recommended to do it for 60-90 days from what I've seen, but if seeds fall on November 1-10, then the seeds would need to be planted/sown on February of next year which is still icy and far from spring. I'm wondering how I should go about STORING the seeds. Would I just need to extend the stratification length or store them in a refrigerator in a dry jar then stratify them in the refrigerator with moist vermiculite? Also I'm unsure whether the seeds germinate while in the bag in the fridge while stratifying. My target month for planting them in trays will be around March 5th and anytime after that since I noticed this is the peak stream-flow in my area and seedlings/buds start emerging from trees. I've heard that gambel oaks have 2 variants: the clonal colony typically found in browsing areas which grows 5-10 ft, and the true single trunk tree which can reach 30+ ft. I'm also wondering if gambel oaks will reach a good 30+ ft height from normal clonal type oaks as I've heard elsewhere.
I've been planting all of my tree seeds directly where I want them to grow. I collect, sort and clean seeds and then just plant a few seeds of each tree in the exact place I want one to grow. Usually at least one seed out of five will develop within the next year. Some trees will need more than one winter to fully germinate so I label a little stake or flag to mark the newly planted tree seeds and then walk away. No water, no love... nothing. It's on nature's time now. Once they sprout I determine which one's to keep and then just remove any extras that grow in the same area. In some case I leave two trees in case one dies early on.
My luck with fridge-stratification has been good, but it takes up a lot of space (and time) when there are so many seeds to work with. There is also the trouble of planting in trays, potting up, hardening off, and transplanting. There are also losses along with those processes.
I just collected some seeds from tulip poplar, acorns from 2 unknown oaks (one was very upright like a Lombardy poplar with small long seeds, and another one with branches from the bottom, more wide like a pine with big 1 inch seeds), big-tooth maple, box-elder and green ash. I need these seedlings for a restoration project on my land, a ton of invasive trees like Siberian & wych elms were removed from my property because they were damaging 2 old metal irrigation pipes which are 2 springs that ran adjacent to both banks of a creek on my new property. Thankfully, those trees have been removed along with the irrigation pipes because now they're emptying upstream as they should and water is diverted downstream instead. The last time a water rights user used it was about a year ago, but now they've switched to a different company. The banks were highly eroded, scalloping and the water had high nitrates & nitrogen from upstream cows (I've encouraged them to leave a NATIVE river buffer!), now the pollutants are lower but still there. Also the 2 irrigation pipes carried about 50-100 cfs each, and in 2011 they were done, they had to have sediments removed and most of the water upstream ended up in the creek and even then the water was filthy. Now that they're gone, and there'll be an extra 100-200 cfs in the spring and maybe 10-15 cfs more in the summer. Next year's spring runoff will be much greater without diverted water, and land owners have to have the creek widened or else it'll just erode & erode. SO now that I have these seeds, I'm hoping to STORE them (I'm not sure how) and then stratify them & plant them in small 3x2 in or 3x1 in pots IN MARCH-APRIL!!! Then I'd move them over to bigger 12 in diameter pots (in 1-2 years). Because if I sowed them today, they'd be eroded in the spring! I want to plant them in pots by MARCH or APRIL, but stratifying them NOW would leave the 90 days of stratification in EARLY February which is FREEZING COLD. I don't want to invest in a cold frame or greenhouse until next fall maybe when I can get some additional coconut fiber or temporary rip rap to prevent erosion. SO THIS IS WHY I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO STORE THEM & THEN STRATIFY THEM TO BE SOWN IN POTS BY MARCH-APRIL! I know, this will pay off far in the future, far in the future maybe in 18 years when the trees are fully mature & give a nice view. I want native/beneficial trees which will attract wildlife to my creek! By the way, my cabin is located in Cache County, UTAH, United States of America.
AND, these are the seeds I'm planning to plant:
1. Water Birch (betula occidentalis)
2. Pin Oak (I know, the only oak native to my region is the gambel oak.)
3. Oak 1 (Long, smaller acorns, smooth) (tall upright tree, like a Lombardy poplar)
4. Oak 2 (Big 1 in acorns, texture & size almost exact to a "date", except it with vertical streaks) (wider tree, with branches starting at the bottom like a pine)
5. Tulip Poplar/Tulip Tree
6. Boxelder Maple
7. Bigtooth Maple
8. Green Ash (fraxinus pennsylvanica)
9. Willow (salix exigua, montocola, peachleaf, bebb) SUMMER SEED 10. Fremont Cottonwood SUMMER SEED 11. Eastern Cottonwood SUMMER SEED 11. Narrowleaf Cottonwood SUMMER SEED 13. Lanceleaf Cottonwood SUMMER SEED 14. Redoiser dogwood (unsure) 15. Western service-berry (unsure)
Chais, The stratification numbers you have mentioned are more "minimum" than absolute limits.
Just gather your seeds and set them up for stratification, you can use sand in freezer type baggies so the seeds don't take up a large amount of space.
Longer term stratification will not be harmful to the seeds. Mother Nature doesn't always use a timer for "natural" stratification.
When you are going to use pots to start trees, be sure they are deep enough for a good root system to develop right off the bat.
I like to use 2 liter soft drink bottles with the narrow pouring section cut off and one hole in each of the "bottom" segments for good drainage.
These "containers", besides being free, are also tall so the roots can grow down, they are wide enough for starting a tree nicely too.
When your ready to plant out your new trees just cut the container away and plant them like you would normally plant a tree.
Yes, that's what I've been finding out that you can prolong or extend the stratification period. In fact, I read that stratifying tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) for 140 days at 36 degrees Fahrenheit yields a satisfying 90% germination vs the quicker 30-90 days at 36-50 degrees which results in 5-20% germination. I'll follow up with my results later on in the spring when I sow them.
At my office we have several Tulip poplars that I am waiting to collect the seeds from to use on Asnikiye Hecka.
Once I gather them I will simply place them where I want the trees to grow and let winter do its job for me.
I missed getting more Osage Orange seed this year but hopefully I will be able to use the trench method to grow many of those next year.