29 November 2018

Lustrum: Grow your own tree

Congratulations! You are now mom or dad of a supercool Slopend Lustrum II birch tree!

The silver birch (betula pendula) is a tree that is native to the Netherlands. It can grow up to 20m tall. As Slopers we mostly know the birch as the producer of super chill firestarter: birch bark.

Want to make your tree-baby grow well so that it might eventually produce birch bark as well? Follow these tips:

  1. Wake up your seeds! They’re dormant right now. Sleeping seeds won’t germinate. Breaking this dormancy is done through cold stratification: you wake ’em up with cold temperatures¬†(just like in nature!).

This is easiest done by just sowing your seeds outside and wait until frosty temperatures arrive. Do this in the period between October and February. Fill a pot or cup with compost and compress it well. Lay the seeds down on top. Cover them with a thin layer (a few mm) of sieved compost or vermiculite. And place the pot outside in a place where it can’t get filled with rainwater. And then… we wait! Hopefully, after a few weeks of spring, the seeds will germinate.

For the tree parents that don’t have a garden or balcony near them, there is another method to get your seeds nice and chill: in the fridge!
* soak the seeds in water for 24 hours
* drain away all the water and put the seeds in a zip-lock bag
* put the bag with seeds in the fridge for 4 weeks. Make sure that the seeds won’t dry out or are waterlogged!
Afterwards, you can sow the seeds. Choose a pot and fill it with compost. Press it down. Lay the seeds down on top and cover them with a thin layer (a few mm) of sieved compost or vermiculite. Give them a bit of water and keep them at room temperature. Germination will begin from a few weeks following sowing.

  1. See them grow.  Your seedlings are cute, small and vulnerable, so keep them out of the hot sun until the first true leaves emerge. Shading and a moist ground are important. Remove competing weeds, so that your tree baby gets the chance to grow as big as possible. At the end of the first growing season, your seedling is probably around 20-50 cm tall.
  2. Heb geduld. Trees do not grow in one day. See your your seedling grows over the years. At the end of the second year, you can give your young tree its permanent place.
  3. Compare baby pics with other Slopend tree parents. Who will have the tallest tree at the next Lustrum?

Klein maar fijn! Birch trees are also suitable as bonsai trees. If you prefer a bonsai over a giant of 20m that would never be able to do the kaboutertarzan (and also can’t move to new places as easily), check the following links about growing a birch bonsai:

Birch Bonsai Species Guide

Betula (berk)