Last week, whilst walking my dog, I noticed lots of larch cones on the forest floor, some still attached to small twigs and branches. I picked a few up with the intention of learning more about larch seeds and of seeing whether I could grow a larch tree from seed.
I consulted a range of sources before beginning the process of attempting to harvest the seeds. I learned that the cones of larch may open and close according to climatic conditions, so whilst the cones may have “dropped” some of their seeds already, it might be possible that the cones I had picked up still held some seeds too.
All sources recommended that the cones be put into a warm room to encourage them to open. I put my cones into a paper bag in the bottom of our airing cupboard.
Today I opened the paper bag and started my larch seed adventure! I tapped and shook the cones gently to see what came out. I didn’t really know what to expect or how to recognise a larch seed. To my delight, some of the cones did yield some very small, light brown seeds with very delicate “wings”. I did a Google search for images of larch seeds, and I was excited to discover that I had indeed managed to harvest a modest number of seeds.
Some sources suggest that these seeds can be planted immediately. My trusted tree bible, Tree Planting And Aftercare , suggests that such seeds are better stored in a polythene bag in a fridge at 2-5 degrees celsius until sowing time (usually around the beginning of March).
Closer to sowing time, I can decide whether I sow straight into a seed tray or use a pre-sowing method like stratifying (as with elder). Should I want to optimise the germination rate, I could also consider “sowing” seeds directly onto a tray lined with moist kitchen paper. The tray would then be placed in a polythene bag and returned to the fridge for 3-6 weeks. After the chilling period, the tray is then brought to room temperature but kept covered with newspaper. The tray needs to be kept dark until the seeds germinate. When the seeds have germinated, they can be planted out!
I am just going outside and may be some time.