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Growing Conifers from Seed (7 Replies)

Posted February 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Hi, I’m Jim Brackman and I run the ACS Seed Exchange program. We’re starting this Topic as a place to discuss how ACS Members can get unusual conifer seed from our program and to answer any questions you may have about germination and striation of seed. I’ll be helped out here by some of my ACS colleagues who have a lot of experience doing this too. I just put up the inventory list and order form for 2014. As background, there is also on the Seed Exchange page a link to an article that ran in CQ some years about how to do this.

OK, so who is going to start this?

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Posted February 11, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Collecting seed for the ACS Seed Exchange has been a great way to record the seed ripening dates for conifers in The Holden Arboretum. There also are a number of conifers in Holden’s collection that were originally received as seed from the ACS Seed Exchange. We have an Engelmann spruce from New Mexico’s Sandia Mts. that Jerry Morris collected as well as a limber pine from northern Colorado and a cute little bun of a limber pine that Jerry Morris collected as seed in southern Wyoming.

Who would be interested in collecting conifer seed for the ACS Seed Exchange next year? It would be nice to have a few more contributors.

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:16 am

Jim, I just read the article you linked to in your post above. How long do you leave the seeds in the peat moss in the refrigerator before planting?

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Posted May 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Seeds have been in the cold dark fridge for about a month now. Time to check for any moldy ones. Thanks for the off-line help Jim and the info on the wet paper towel method for stratification. Here’s the article I ended up finding based on your comments: http://csfs.colostate.edu/pdfs/chap2.pdf Will keep you updated on the progress!

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Posted May 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I have a small Pinus ponderosa ‘Marguerite’ barely 16″ tall that has five developing cones on it. How long for the cones to mature? Anything else I should know? This is a dwarf pine. I didn’t think a tree so young could do that? If any viable seeds are produced I could donate most of them.

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 7:11 am

Hi Louise, it is exciting to hear that your ‘Marguerite’ is developing seed cones. You may not be aware, but seed coming from cones of witch’s brooms is very valuable and can lead to more new and exciting dwarf conifers. If the cones were set last spring and are fertile, they will shed winged seeds in August or September, if the plant is just setting cones this year, you will have to wait until next year. Hopefully there were other Pinus ponderosa in your area to fertilize the seeds.

Even though your particular tree may be young keep in mind that the scionwood that was taken to be grafted was likely very old and as such is old enough to cone. I hope this helps answer your questions and I’m sure that Jim will look forward to receiving seed from you if you get some.

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 7:33 am

More information. . . .

As what often happens, I started doing some research on the proper spelling for Louise’s tree. Turns out the correct name is Pinus ponderosa ‘Margaret.’ Jerry Morris found the original tree growing as a natural dwarf (possibly a witch’s broom seedling), in southern Wyoming between Cheyenne and Laramie. He estimated the age of the original tree to be 200-300 years old. He named the tree after Rich Eyre’s mother.

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I do appreciate the help on conifers from seed. My cones are new this year so will not be available for 2014 exchange. That is if they are viable. I do not know if there are any other ponderosa pines near my home. I will have to wait and see. In the mean time I will be on the prowl for another dwarf ponderosa pine for pollenation of both.

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