Growing Native Trees from Seed

Asked August 2, 2019, 11:57 AM EDT

Hello, My niece has decided that her volunteer project is to grow native trees from seed. We want to grow them in pots on our balcony. My question is, what do we do with the pots in winter? Should they be left outside? Covered? Put in the basement? We don't want to plant them in the ground until they are older. Is there a certain kind of tree that is better for the environment? Thanks! Sandy Yarrington Wayne State University

Wayne County Michigan overwintering trees

1 Response

Thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

What a fascinating project you and your niece have planned! Starting trees in pots will work just fine but you will need to protect the pots from low winter temps. This can be done by putting them in an unheated area such as a garage. The basement may be too warm. I do not know what exposure your balcony has but it is possible they would survive fine up against the building with some insulation. The insulation could be a thick cardboard box or styrofoam cooler. If you have access to a ground area you can sink the pots into the ground and cover with a leaf mulch once temps fall below freezing. Whichever method you try, wait until the leaves have fallen and the trees have gone dormant.

Which trees are better for the environment is a question best answered by, the one that grows well where you plant it. Research the requirements for the trees you have chosen and know that often in urban environments a native tree may not be the best choice.

Whatever tree you choose to plant, this will be a fun project. Look around your area and see what native trees grow well there. Visit a native plant nursery or nature center and ask a lot of questions!

Here are some links which you may find useful.
https://www.canr.msu.edu/hrt/uploads/535/78626/GoingNative.pdf
https://lsa.umich.edu/herbarium/ ( this site will give you lots of info especially about the distribution of species in Michigan)