To grow a hemlock tree from seeds, it is important to know everything from collecting and germinating hemlock seeds to finding the best location for a hemlock tree and how to care for it as it grows.
Hemlock seeds will eventually grow into large evergreen trees that you will enjoy for many years if they are cared for properly.
Collecting Hemlock Seeds
The best way to collect hemlock seeds is by gathering cones from hemlock trees that are healthy and mature. It usually takes a hemlock tree 20 to 40 years to begin to produce cones with seeds, so you may need to do a little searching for a good tree to collect from. It is good to start collecting them in late summer, right as they fall off the tree, as squirrels and other small animals like to collect and eat the seeds as well.
After you have collected the cones, place them in a covered box in a dark and dry location in your home, perhaps a closet or your basement. Let them dry out over the winter. In the spring, shake the cones or break them open to remove the seeds that are inside the cones. It is important to plant the seeds fairly soon after you have removed them from the cone, otherwise the seed will become too old and will not produce a tree.
Warmer vs. Colder Climates
It is important to plant your hemlock seeds in a place where they will receive partial sunlight after the last frost but no later than early summer. If you live in a cooler climate, you may want to consider purchasing a cold frame that you will be able to place over the area you have planted your seed to allow a greenhouse effect to work in growing your seed. This will help your tree survive its first few planted months.
You can also start your tree indoors in a place where your hemlock will get partial sun and then transplant it later in the summer.
Hemlock trees will grow best in well-drained, consistently moist soil. The roots of the hemlock will not burrow very deep, so it could easily die from wind or water deficiency, so it is important to protect your tree from harsher elements and remember to water it often.
The seeds should initially be planted 5 inches beneath the soil line to have adequate room to develop.
Make sure that you add mulch to the soil around your tree at least once a month from the time you planted the seed to late fall and early winter. Check the soil often to make sure that it is warm and that it is moist to the touch. Make sure to add extra fertilizer or manure before winter starts, to ensure that the hemlock tree will have enough to keep it warm throughout the winter. To keep your hemlock thriving, remember to mulch it at least once a year.
With proper care, your hemlock will grow strong and beautiful, and you will enjoy having it for many years.