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Starting a Red Buckeye from Seed

Red Buckeye

For DIY gardeners, here is a recipe for growing red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) from seed.  Seeds are usually ready for harvest in late September.  With proper nourishment, seeds sown in the fall of 2009 become lovely 4-5 foot blooming trees by the spring of 2012.

First, locate a red buckeye in the Tri-Cities.  Collect the seed before the outside husk has cracked open. This next step is very important – de-husk and sow each seed in its own pot or in a prepared garden bed to a 2 inch depth the same day (or within a short time thereafter).  Do not wait more than a week or the seeds will not germinate or may linger (grow slowly).  The young root or “radical” should emerge into the soil within one week (success!).  Never let the seedling(s) dry out.

Over the next two years, feed the potted seedling or the garden seed bed once in early spring with 10-10-10 or an equivalent fertilizer. Young red buckeye trees don’t seem to need much more care, except to proper watering and weeding over the summer months.

Eventually, this wonderful spring flowering native which you started from a seed will mature into a 25-30 foot yard tree.

Hubert P. Conlon, UT Extension Area Specialist, Ornamental Horticulture

Red Buckeye is a native small tree or shrub and can be found throughout Hamilton County and southeastern Tennessee.  As one example, Red Buckeye can be found in the Reflection Riding Arboretum.  As a protected wildlife species, please be careful not to disturb or damage the plant when collecting seeds.

For more information about this species, see http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AEPA.  Photograph reproduced with permission from Allain Davis, National Wetlands Research Center

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