Growing Sequoia from seed

Vitopod Propagator

Propagating conifer seeds

Our Gardening Angels love a good gardening experiment. Here's one from 2013!

Our Vitopod electric heated propagator is marvellous for propagating vegetable seeds. However, we thought we would try propagating some tree seeds. We chose Sequoia Sempervirens (coastal redwood).

Coastal redwoods are the tallest trees in the world reaching heights of 400 feet (120 metres). Their root systems are enormous too, reaching 200 feet (60 metres) long. Sequoia are deciduous conifer native to a narrow strip of land along the northern coast of California. The most impressive example of sequoia in the UK is at Cowdray Park, West Sussex.

Sequoia seeds are difficult to germinate which is one of the reasons for their endangered status. The seeds have a germination rate of around 35% and will remain dormant until the conditions are perfect for the seedlings to establish. We don't want to boast, but we germinated 50%! They need a period of stratification to break their dormancy, this is done in 2 stages

- They are soaked for 24 hours in cold water
- The seeds are kept a constant temperature of 4oc for 30 days.

We started the stratification process on the 25th September and sowed the seeds on the 25th October. The Vitopod heated propagator was set to 20oc and the vents were kept closed. A week after sowing, 50% of the seeds sown had germinated and growing strongly. The humidity was gradually decreased by opening the Vitopod's vents. A week after germination the seedlings had developed sufficiently to be pricked out and transferred to individual 3 inch pots.

After the seedlings have germinated, they quickly develop a good root system. Not surprising, they can support growth of up to 8 feet a year! As the roots develop so quickly, the seedlings were pricked out soon after germination. This was in order to prevent too much stress to the young plant. One seedling already had a root system 3.5cm in diameter). The seedlings were then placed into the Vitopod heated propagator where they will overwinter before being planted in the ground.

These trees make excellent additions to any large garden, they should be planted in early spring after the last frosts. These seedlings however are ultimately destined to be trained as bonsai.

Would try growing conifers from seeds? We would love to hear what seeds you’ve got in your Vitopod heated propagator, so send us any pictures you have to or post them on our Facebook page