How to Grow Osage Orange Trees From Seed

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Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) trees are Texas natives, named for the Osage Indians who used its wood to make hunting bows and war clubs. Texas settlers used the thorny trees as natural livestock fences. Over time the tree spread throughout the United States and can now be found in all but the coldest climates. The (largely inedible) fruit of the Osage Orange, often called a "Hedge Apple" for its bright green color and shape, is said to repel insects and is now a popular accent in floral arrangements. Osage Orange trees are fairly easy to grow, but the seeds must be properly cared for to ensure that they germinate and sprout.

Things You'll Need

  • Hedge apple
  • Wax paper
  • Plastic bag
  • Large plant pot
  • Compost or manure
  • Sand
  • Plastic wrap
  • Fertilizer

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Choose a ripe hedge apple from the ground surrounding an Osage Orange tree. The pulpy mass inside of each hedge apple contains the tree’s seeds. Do not select a fruit from the tree itself as these fruits may not be mature enough to contain seeds capable of germination.

Cut open the fruit and remove the pulp. Wrap the pulp in wax paper and place the wax paper package in a plastic bag.

Place the bag containing the wax wrapped seeds into the refrigerator. The pulp will need to be refrigerated for four weeks before you attempt to plant it. This stratifies the seeds and increases the odds that they will germinate successfully.

Fill a large pot with a rich, yet well-draining soil. Poke holes in the soil approximately one inch deep. Compost or manure mixed with sand works well for germinating Osage Orange seeds.

Remove the pulp from the refrigerator. Separate the pulp and place it into the holes. Each hole should contain multiple Osage Orange seeds.

Place the pot in indirect sunlight. Cover with clear plastic wrap to lock in heat and moisture for the seeds.

Water the germinating seeds just often enough to keep the soil moist.

Remove the plastic wrap when the seeds begin to sprout. Provide the seedlings with plenty of direct sunlight by placing them on a windowsill or taking them outdoors during the brightest part of the day.

Transplant the young trees to a semi-shaded area outdoors when they are about a foot tall. The soil in the area you intend to transplant the trees should be sandy and well-draining.

Water the trees deeply once a week. Increase the amount of water as the tree grows.

Fertilize the trees three times a year with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer for four years. After this period of time, your Osage Orange trees will thrive without assistance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stratification is not required if you gather the seeds from fruit that has been allowed to sit on the ground throughout a cold winter.
  • Osage Orange trees are fairly resilient to cold weather, but can be killed by long periods of freezing temperatures. Cover the tree's base with a plastic tarp if you expect a hard freeze.
  • Plant numerous seeds rather than just one. Not all of your Osage Orange seeds will stratify properly and this increases your chances of having a seed sprout.
  • Plant Osage Orange trees well away from areas where cars are commonly parked or children play. The large thorns of the trees are extremely sharp and could puncture a car tire if driven over or cause injury to children and pets. The fallen fruit can also be messy in a driveway.

References

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