How To Grow Flowering Dogwood Trees From Seed

How To Grow Flowering Dogwood Trees From Seed

Flowering Dogwood trees can be easily grown from seed,​ however 99.9999% of​ the​ seedlings that sprout will be Cornus Florida,​ which is​ White Flowering Dogwood. it​ doesn’t matter if​ you​ collect the​ seeds from a​ White Dogwood or​ a​ Pink Dogwood,​ the​ seedlings are likely to​ be white.

The only predictable way to​ grow a​ Pink Dogwood,​ Red Dogwood,​ or​ one of​ the​ beautiful Dogwoods with variegated leaves,​ is​ to​ bud or​ graft the​ desired variety onto a​ White Dogwood seedling.

See this page on​ my website for details on​ "budding".

Dogwood trees begin producing seeds right after the​ petals drop from the​ flowers. It’s a​ slow process that takes all summer. By late summer the​ seeds begin to​ turn red,​ which means they are just about mature. Don’t pick them too early or​ the​ embryo will not be fully developed and they will not be viable. When the​ seeds are fully developed they will begin to​ fall from the​ tree,​ and at​ that time you​ can begin to​ pick them.

Ripe seeds can be removed easily. if​ they don’t pop right off when you​ grab them,​ they are not quite ready,​ give them another week or​ two. Don’t let them fall to​ the​ ground,​ the​ chipmunks,​ birds and other critters love them,​ and usually eat them as​ fast as​ they fall.

Once picked,​ let them sit for a​ week or​ so,​ until the​ pulp begins to​ soften. at​ that time soak them in​ a​ pail of​ water to​ further soften the​ pulp. While still in​ the​ pail of​ water squeeze the​ seeds between your fingers to​ separate the​ seeds from the​ pulp. Once they are separated slowly add water to​ the​ pail until it​ overflows,​ allowing the​ water to​ flow over the​ edge of​ the​ pail slowly.

The viable seeds should sink to​ the​ bottom of​ the​ pail,​ while the​ pulp should float to​ the​ top. Allow the​ pulp to​ float out of​ the​ pail until you​ have nothing but clean seeds lying on​ the​ bottom of​ the​ pail. Drain the​ water and spread the​ seeds out on​ a​ table to​ dry. Once dry the​ seeds can be stored in​ a​ cool dry place. They will keep this way for some time.

Because Dogwood seeds have a​ very hard outer coating on​ the​ seed,​ they need to​ be pretreated or​ stratified before they will germinate. This process softens the​ outer coating so that water and oxygen can enter,​ initiating the​ germination process. There are several ways to​ stratify Dogwood seeds,​ from treating them with acid to​ storing them in​ the​ refrigerator. I will share a​ couple of​ techniques that I think will work the​ best for someone with little experience.

One technique requires that you​ decide what day next spring you​ would like to​ plant the​ seeds and then counting backwards on​ your calendar for 210 days to​ start the​ stratification process. Here in​ the​ north May 15 is​ a​ good target date for planting because by then we should be safe from frost. you​ don’t want Mother Nature to​ do them in​ before they even have a​ chance.

210 days from May 15 would put you​ around Oct. 15 to​ start the​ stratification process. to​ stratify the​ seeds using this technique simply place them in​ a​ plastic bag with some moist (not wet!) peat moss,​ or​ a​ mixture of​ moist peat and sand. Poke some holes in​ the​ bag,​ you​ don’t want it​ air tight. Store them in​ this mixture at​ room temperature for a​ period of​ 105 days.

After 105 days move them to​ your refrigerator for another 105 days. Don’t put them way in​ the​ back where they might freeze. you​ want them cool,​ but not frozen. After 105 days of​ storage in​ the​ refrigerator they should be ready to​ plant outside. Just time it​ so that you​ get them outside just after the​ danger of​ frost has past.

While the​ seeds are being stored check them weekly,​ if​ you​ have fungus growing in​ the​ bag sprinkle a​ little fungicide in. Near the​ end of​ the​ storage period you​ should be checking for germination,​ as​ soon as​ 10% of​ the​ seeds have germinated they should be planted out. if​ it’s too early,​ plant them in​ a​ flat indoors,​ just make sure they get plenty of​ sunlight.

To plant them simply sprinkle the​ entire contents of​ the​ bag on​ top of​ the​ soil and spread it​ out. Sprinkle some light soil over top. Do not plant the​ seeds too deep. 1/4” of​ soil over top is​ all you​ want. Water them thoroughly after planting,​ then allow the​ soil to​ dry out before watering again. Make sure you​ plant them in​ an​ area that drains well,​ you​ don’t want them in​ soggy soil or​ they will rot.

That’s one technique. Another technique is​ to​ nick each seed in​ a​ couple of​ different places with a​ knife right after the​ seeds are cleaned,​ and plant them out immediately in​ the​ fall. Cover the​ seed bed with a​ piece of​ screen so the​ critters don’t dig them up and eat them.

Which technique works better?

I don’t know. There are so many variables that can change the​ outcome that I have not seen where one works better than the​ other. I suggest you​ do some each way and see what works best for you. I like getting them planted right away in​ the​ fall and putting Mother Nature in​ charge,​ but it’s disappointing if​ something happens and you​ have a​ poor stand,​ that’s why it’s always nice to​ try some both ways.

You can also grow Chinese Dogwood (Cornus Kousa) from seed. Chinese Dogwood is​ very popular because it​ flowers much later than most other ornamentals. Late June is​ usually when they are in​ bloom,​ and the​ flowers are cream colored against dark green foliage. it​ makes the​ flowers look mint green in​ color. Just use the​ same techniques as​ above.

How To Grow Flowering Dogwood Trees From Seed

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