a young treeHelp us double Wirral’s tree canopy by growing a tree from seed. Once you have nurtured your seedling for the first couple of years, join us and plant it in one of our parks.

Collect seeds from a tree that is growing well in your local park or greenspace. When to collect the seeds varies depending on the type of tree but typically this is done in Autumn. Carry seeds in paper or hessian bags, try not to mix up seeds of different types.

Some tree varieties will germinate immediately, and therefore will be ready to sow as soon as collected. Others are dormant and require treatment before they will grow but please don’t be put off, the process is simple and having a diverse tree population will help Wirral’s canopy become resilient to climate change as well as pests and disease.

To start you off, we have some tree species suggestions:

Oak and beech

Collection

October to November. Collect from the ground but discard any which have visible damage.

Treatment and sowing

Separate acorn/nut from its cup/husk, place in water and plant those that sink.  Plant straight away into a pot filled with compost (make sure the pot has holes in the bottom for drainage) and cover with a thin layer of compost. Place the pot outside in a shady spot but remember to cover the top with mesh to prevent birds or squirrels from stealing the seeds!

Aftercare

Do not let your pots dry out. Shoots will emerge from late April.

Re-pot the seedling into a bigger container if required but the seedling will grow quite happily in a 1-litre pot for two summers.

When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

Wild Cherry, Bird Cherry, Rowan and Elder

Collection

Pick the berries when ripe: wild cherry in July; bird cherry in August; Rowan end of August to early September; and Elder September to October

Treatment and sowing

Soak the berries in water to soften them. Squeeze the berries through a sieve to extract the seeds. Alternatively, pop the berries by hand and remove the seeds individually.

Mix the seeds with equal parts compost and horticultural sand. Place a layer of stones at the bottom of a pot (which has drainage holes in). Cover the stones with a layer of sand and place the seed mixture on top. Cover the pot with a thin layer of sand. Place the pot outside in a shady spot and protect is from predators.

By the end of March your seeds should show signs of germination. Plant three germinated seeds into a 1 litre pot filled with compost. Cover them with 5mm of horticultural sand.

Aftercare

Give plenty of water to your seeds and young seedling.
When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

Hazel

Collection

Collect ripe hazelnuts in September

Treatment and sowing

Remove husks, place the nuts in water and discard those that float.
Mix the nuts with an equal part of horticultural sand. Place a layer of stones at the bottom of a pot (which has drainage holes in). Cover the stones with a layer of sand and place the seed mixture on top. Place the pot in a shady spot away from mice!

By March your seeds should show signs of germination. Plant two germinated seeds to a 1 litre pot filled with compost.

Aftercare

Do not let your pots dry out. When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

Blackthorn

Collection

Pick the sloes (berries) directly from the tree from the end of September onwards.

Treatment and sowing

Soak the berries in water to soften them. Squeeze the berries through a sieve to extract the seeds. Alternatively, pop the berries by hand and remove the seeds individually.

Mix the seeds with equal parts compost and horticultural sand. Place a layer of stones at the bottom of a pot (which has drainage holes in). Cover the stones with a layer of sand and place the seed mixture on top. Cover the pot with a thin layer of sand. It is beneficial to keep these pots in a warm place for 4 weeks before putting them outdoors in a shady spot.

In early March your seeds should show signs of germination. Plant three germinated seeds into a 1 litre pot filled with compost. Cover them with 10mm of horticultural sand.

Aftercare

Give plenty of water to your seeds and young seedling. When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

Silver Birch and Scots Pine

Collection

Collect cones when they have turned from green to brown (silver birch end of August and scots pine September to November).

Treatment and sowing

Air-dry the cones for two weeks at room temperature which will encourage them to open and release the seeds. Mix the seeds with moist horticultural sand and sow onto a seed tray. Cover with a thin layer of horticultural sand.

In spring your seeds should show signs of germination. Plant germinated seeds into a pot filled with compost.

Aftercare

Keep moist at all times. When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

Hawthorn and Holly

Collection

Collect berries from the tree when ripe (hawthorn in October and Holly in November or December).

Treatment and sowing

Soak the berries in water to soften them. Squeeze the berries through a sieve to extract the seeds. Alternatively, pop the berries by hand and remove the seeds individually.

Mix the seeds with equal parts compost and horticultural sand. Place a layer of stones at the bottom of a pot (which has drainage holes in). Cover the stones with a layer of sand and place the seed mixture on top. Cover the pot with a thin layer of sand. Place the pot outside in a shady spot and protect from predators for 18 months.

In early February (in the second year following collection), sow one germinated seed per 1 litre pot filled with compost.

Aftercare

Give plenty of water to your seeds and young seedling. When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

Field Maple and Lime

Collection

Collect fruits in Autumn when brown (October onwards).

Treatment and sowing

Remove from twigs and stalks but keep wings on. can be planted with the wings left on. Mix the seeds with equal parts compost and horticultural sand. Place a layer of stones at the bottom of a pot (which has drainage holes in). Cover the stones with a layer of sand and place the seed mixture on top. Cover the pot with a thin layer of sand. Place the pot outside in a shady spot and protect from predators.

In spring your seeds should show signs of germination. Plant germinated seeds into a pot filled with compost.

Aftercare

Do not let your pots dry out. When your seedling reaches 40cm join us and plant it in one of our parks or greenspaces.

For more information and other tree species, please take a look at the following guides:

Register your tree with us

Tell us when you have planted your tree and we will send you a certificate in recognition of your contribution to Wirral’s Tree Canopy. You will need to tell us the details below:

  • full name
  • email address
  • if you represent an organisation please name it
  • where did you collect your seeds?
  • date the seeds were collected
  • date the seeds were potted
  • approximately how many seeds were potted?
  • why have you made this pledge? (Hearing your story will help us encourage others to take part)

Please email the above information to treestrategymailings@wirral.gov.uk

Thank you so much for your contribution to Wirral’s Tree Canopy. Your tree will be registered, and you will receive an electronic certificate within 15 working days.