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Mr. Smarty Plants - Propagating redbud (Cercis canadensis) seeds

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Wednesday - October 24, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Propagating redbud (Cercis canadensis) seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Our Red Bud tree is full of bean shaped seed pods. Can those be planted and if so how? I enjoy puttering in the yard.

ANSWER:

First of all, after you remove the pods from your Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud), you will need to remove the actual seeds from the pods. You will note that the seeds themselves have a very hard seed covering. You will need to scarify (break or soften) that seed cover in order to enhance germination. You can nick each of the seeds using a knife or by abrading with sandpaper. You can also do this by soaking in concentrated sulfuric acid for up to 45 minutes, but this operation should ideally be done under a fume, or chemical, hood to protect your lungs, eyes, and nasal passages. Jill Nokes in "How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest". (University of Texas Press, 2001) reports several methods to be followed after you have scarified them, but the simplest is to rinse the seeds after scarification and dry very briefly. Next put them into a flat bowl or pan and pour boiling water over them. Let them remain overnight in the water as it cools. Plant them in individual small containers to germinate. The seedlings can later be transplanted. Your local library should have a copy of the above book by Jill Nokes or you can probably find it in your favorite book store. You can check it to read about other possible methods for germinating the seed. It should be noted that not all seeds that you collect will be viable. You can check for viability by dropping the seeds (removed from the pod) into a container of water BEFORE you scarify them. The viable seeds will sink while the non-viable ones will float and you can discard them.

 

 

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