Growing birch trees from seeds may be time-consuming, but it will give you a much greater sense of satisfaction than purchasing nursery-grown saplings. You can easily grow birch tree seeds outdoors, but it is important that you grow the seeds in an ideal location for the species and take proper care of the seedling as it matures. The best time to grow birch trees from seeds is in the late summer or fall, right after the seeds ripen.
Things You'll Need
- Birch tree seeds
- Seed trays or containers
Collect birch tree seeds from trees within a 100-mile radius of where the seeds will be grown. According to the Wisconsin Department of Forest Ecology and Management, tree seedlings have a better chance of survival when grown within 100 miles of their parent tree.
Determine the type of birch tree that you are growing from seed. Collect paper birch and yellow birch tree seeds in late summer or early autumn--ideally between August and September. Collect river birch tree seeds in the late spring or early summer. This quality is unique to the river birch, as it is the only species of birch tree that drops its seeds in a season other than autumn.
Identify whether the seeds are ripe and ready for collection. Birch seeds are ripe when the strobiles break easily and appear brown and woody. Strobiles are the cone-like structures that contain the seeds. They can be picked directly from low-hanging branches or picked from the ground surrounding the trunk of the tree.
Decide where you'll sow the seeds. Grow birch tree seeds in containers, in the ground or in seed trays.
Sow the seeds after they've been collected in the late summer or fall, depending on the type of birch tree you're growing. For paper and yellow birch, scatter 200 seeds per square foot and sow just below the surface at one-sixteenth of an inch. River birch trees should also be sowed just below the surface in an area where the soil will receive plenty of sunlight to germinate the seeds. It is critical that river birch trees are grown in moist soil, as they are found naturally along swamps, riverbeds and in flood plains.
Care for the seedlings carefully so that they grow well. Grow paper and yellow birch trees in the shade for the first two to three months of their first summer. River birch trees will grow well in partial sunlight.
Wait one to two years before transplanting your birch tree seedlings.