Serviceberry (Amelanchier) provides edible fruits for humans and birds and nectar for pollinators. For reference, it flowers between April and May. The fruits mature later during summer—usually in July.
But how do you start a Serviceberry tree? You can collect the seeds from ripe or dried fruits. Ripe fruits are dark and have a dark peduncle, too. In general, most Amelanchier varieties adapt to different soils and are cold-hardy. But the seeds prefer neutral and well-drained soils and temperatures above 40F, although the optimal temperature is not known.
Here is how to grow Serviceberry from seed in more detail.
How To Grow Serviceberry From Seed Step By Step
1 – Preparing Potting Mix
Preparation of potting mix is highly recommendable for growing Amelanchier varieties from seeds.
The potting mix is lighter and has better moisture retention than natural garden soil. Plus, it has better drainage and air holding capacity, which allows the plant to grow faster. And it also helps serviceberry seedlings avoid weed and plant pathogens that may already be in natural soil.
Most Amelanchier trees like neutral to slightly acidic soils (pH between 5.5 and 7.0). Then again, some varieties like the Amelanchier arborea prefer low pH acidic soils and usually grow out of granite rocks in nature.
The best ratio of potting mix for serviceberry is:
- 30% coarse sand
- 60% universal potting soil (preferably, with the pH level just slightly on the acidic side)
- 10% perlite
If you do not want to grow your Serviceberry tree in a pot, you might have to amend the soil. Let’s see how to grow serviceberry from seed in a gardening bed.
Amending The Garden Soil For Sowing
Garden soil can have a high clay content. So, the first step is to amend it with sand. A combination of sand and peat will allow for the best results. In the end, you should strive to achieve a mix with:
- 30% clay
- 10% peat
- 20% sand
- 50% slightly acid soil
You might have to adjust the soil quality or position depending on which Serviceberry variety you end up planting. So, make sure you follow any instructions on the seed packet.
2 – Planting Dates
The best time to plant Amelanchier seeds is in spring and fall. In detail, the Serviceberry seeds do not take long to germinate. Germination in pots can require as little as five days. But you had better pretreat them for 90-120 days to increase the germination rates. Then, when the time comes, it is better to check the weather forecast and make sure warm weather is ahead.
Keep the extra seeds in an air-tight glass vial and freeze them to provoke dormancy. Add some cotton to ensure low moisture, and your seeds will last for decades!
How To Treat Amelanchier Seeds
Serviceberry seeds should undergo cold-moist stratification. Luckily, you can cold stratify seeds in a couple of different ways using the fridge if you do not winter sow them outside. All you need is:
- a spray bottle with water
- one paper towel sheet or some sand (either of them will act as the medium)
- two plastic ziplock bags and a marker pen to label them
How To Cold Stratify Serviceberry Seeds Step By Step
Open the first baggie. First, wet the medium—spray the sand or paper towel sheet with water. You might want to mist the sand, mix it up, and repeat a couple of times until moist but not dripping water when you squeeze it in your hand.
Put enough sand in the bag to cover the seeds. But not so much you will struggle to retrieve them later—sand works best with big seeds, but since different Serviceberry varieties make seeds of different sizes and shapes, it is better to know both methods. Close the bag, flatten it before sealing it to squeeze the air out, and label it. Now you can toss it in the fridge at a temperature of 37F (3C). Keep it there for at least two months.
With a paper towel, the procedure is the same. But it is better to fold it twice before moistening it. In this way, you can squeeze it to check it is not dripping water, and you will still maintain the fold. Put the seed inside the paper towel sheet, fold it over once more, and put it in the second ziplock bag for refrigeration.
3 – Seeding
The best temperature range for sowing Serviceberry seeds is between 70 and 77F (21 and 25C).
Making sure that water and air get on the root is imperative. Otherwise, the seedling will suffocate. So, plant more seeds in different places for the best results. Also, growing seedlings in partial shade may amp up the success rate.
Adult plants prefer full sun. But if you sow the seeds too late, the heat coupled with the summer sun might be too extreme for the seedling to survive.
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