Attempt to grow Chinese (Kousa) Dogwood from Seed

TJ__(6)September 20, 2011

I recently acquired some seeds from the berries of Kousa dogwood trees. I decided to give it a shot at growing them.

They will probably be inside for this first year, as I'm currently in an apartment.

I did some research already, and some sources suggest stratification to get them to germinate, and one suggested soaking in 3 parts white vinegar to 1 part water for 3-4 days then scrubbing with a brush, then planting. I'm trying the vinegar with some, and want to try the other method with others, but I'm not sure exactly how to do that. Suggestions?

Also I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for this in general.

Has anyone on this forum successfully grown Kousa Dogwood from seeds before? What methods did you use?

How about nicking the seeds with a knife to get them to germinate?


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Dan Staley

How about nicking the seeds with a knife to get them to germinate?

What does your research say about the success of scarification? And what did your research say about the method for stratification?


    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 3:48PM
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The method of stratification suggested is:

"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."

And as scarification goes, they did not mention anything about the success, only that the idea is to make the seed more permeable to air and water.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:51PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Are the seeds fairly fresh? Have you done anything to them so far (like cleaned them and/or started the warm stratification part of the process)? Have you considered planting them outside in a pot/trough, protecting them from predation, and letting nature do the work for you? With seeds that display double-dormancy, nature's way seems way easier to me.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 8:08PM
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I just got them out of the berries two days ago. A third I've had in the acid for two days now, a third has gotten fairly dry after cleaning, and a third is still in water to see if soaking loosens up the pulp to make it easier to remove.

I would put them outside, but I'm in an apartment with no balcony, and I'm on the second floor. Otherwise I most definitely would do so. I agree that it would be much easier.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 12:29AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I just realized that you are planning on growing these as houseplants for at least the first year. My guess is that it will be a struggle to keep them healthy and even alive. If I were you, I'd make friends with someone with a yard and borrow some space for a while. You don't say where you live, but someone near you might be willing to loan you enough space to grow a few seedling trees.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 10:40AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I started some a couple years ago. I cleaned them with just water and put them in a ziploc bag with damp peat moss in the fridge for the winter. I didn't do a warm stratification.

I can't tell you what %age germinated, because I don't remember how many I started with, and I only wanted a couple.

I kept my seedlings for a season on the covered portion of my deck, so they didn't get any direct sunlight. If you have a very bright window where they would get a few hours of sun, I think they would be fine for the first year.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 11:43PM
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docjsf(6 Indiana)

they are painfully easy to germinate. clean the seeds, throw them in pots, put them outside and forget about them.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 12:20PM
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restorephoto(5 (central Indiana))

docjsf, I'm surprised that they'd be easy to germinate. I planted small Kousa (unnamed) in '78. They bloom every year and fruit most years. I've never tried to start new plants from seed. But, in all of those years, only one of the trees has ever produced any seedlings. And that has happened only twice. The seedlings are healthy. I've transplanted and given them away. But, for some reason, it's rare that Mother Nature provides new seedlings.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 3:39PM
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I'll second docjsf's recommendation. I've found them quite easy to grow from seed - handled as he described.

I didn't really have to do any soaking - I ate the kousa fruits and the seeds were pretty effectively 'cleaned' in the process of wallowing the pulp around in my mouth while separating the stony little seeds from the edible parts.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 11:20AM
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