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Planting tree seeds in the fall directly in the ground

Trego, MT(Zone 4b)


I am new at gardening and have a question about planting tree and bush seeds (birch, maple, european mountain ash, lilac, blueberry). I want to plant the seeds directly in the ground this fall, as it would happen in nature, but was wondering if I should place them in peet pellets, which would then be placed in the soil, or just put the seeds directly in the soil. There are some YouTube videos that talk about starting seeds in peet pellets (Jiffy-7 or others), which might provide better access of air to the seeds, and possibly alter the moisture conditions.

I actually live in another State, and will only be able to plant the seeds at our lot inTrego, MT 59934 (about 20 inches of annual precipitation), which already has a mixture of aspen, larch, pine, spruce trees, and keep my fingers crossed until the next year. A couple of years ago, in early May, I attempted to plant seedlings at the same location, but didn't have much success - either they got too dry or got eaten by deer (I was only able to find Norwegian spruce seedlings that survived, and no sign of birch or maple seedlings). This time I want to try planting the seeds (in larger quantities) in the Fall - September/October time frame, hoping if they start naturally, they will be a bit more viable.

I am attaching a couple of pictures of the place, in case it helps to assess the moisture/shade conditions. Should I clear the grass around the spots where I plant seeds, or cover it with leaves?

Any tips and suggestions are really appreciated. I apologize if this is not the right category for my question.


This message was edited Jul 17, 2013 5:43 PM

Thumbnail by SeniaO Thumbnail by SeniaO
Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Seeds should be as fresh as possible. Yes, the more seeds the better. You might have better luck with natives in the long run. I wouldn't think peat would be necessary. In grass might be okay as long as they drop deep enough to come in contact with the soil. Leaf mold or pine duff in part shade might be better. You might want to try a control group at home in pots, outdoors, in shade.

Trego, MT(Zone 4b)

Thank you, Pollengarden!

Unfortunately, I live in California right right now, but I can try to use my refrigerator to immitate winter time :)


Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Tree seeds are a different ball game than perennials. Many require stratification. Also not all will sprout if seeds are fresh. Below is a seed data base link where you may find info. He also sells seeds.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Hi Senia-
Try this USDA database for some specific info on your seeds. I have it saved in my favorites list. Some tree seeds want to be placed in "mineral soil" which means very little organic matter, and some like to be in leaf litter. So some would not like the peat pots. This database is amazing, including many many plants. It is often aimed at commercial growers so sometimes the wording might be confusing as some words are not explained. I love the European Mountain Ash too. They have naturalized around here a bit, so must sprout in the soil, possibly after being bird food.

For example, search out Quercus garryana, the Garry Oak (you can do either common or scientific name searches) and click on "plant guide" (I usually choose the pdf file). This one includes some tips on saving the acorns from becoming wildlife food, which might be important for your situation...

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