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How to Grow a Cherry Blossom Tree from Seed (3 Easy Steps)

There are three major processes you will need to complete to successfully grow your cherry blossom (sakura) tree from seed: 

  • Scarification
  • Stratification
  • Planting/transferring saplings

But, if you freshly harvest your seeds, you may not need to complete scarification and stratification, and you can plant the seeds directly into the soil mix. 

Cherry blossom trees have high cultural significance in their native Japan. 

The blossoms are fleeting, only blooming for about two weeks during the spring, reminding us that life is both beautiful and short. 

Cherry blossoms also signify renewal.

The cherry blossoms are so important to Japanese culture, in fact, that there is even a custom known as hanami, translated as “watching blossoms.” 

During hanami, friends and family get together to cook and visit outside beneath the cherry blossoms. 

So, since these trees are so important and beautiful, they have become a favorite with growers all over the world. 

Therefore, let’s take a look at how you can grow one of these trees for yourself. 

3 Steps to Grow Cherry Blossom Trees From Seed

Step One: Scarification

This process is a simple one and involves weakening the tough outer shell of the cherry blossom seed. 

There are a couple of ways to weaken the shell, including:

  • Using hydrogen peroxide
  • Scraping with sandpaper or a metal file
  • Penetrating the shell with a knife
  • Breaking open the shell

Option One: Hydrogen Peroxide

Experts concede that this method is the best option for scarification, as hydrogen peroxide weakens the outer shell effectively and prevents the seeds from molding. 

In fact, soaking in hydrogen peroxide is the only option for scarification that keeps the seeds from molding. 

Thus, this choice has remained popular. 

To perform this step, just soak your seeds for 10 minutes in hydrogen peroxide. 

Option Two: Sandpaper/Metal File

If you want to try this choice, gently grate the outer shell away with sandpaper or a metal file.

However, be careful not to damage the inner seed. 

Option Three: Penetrating the Shell

To penetrate the shell, you need to carefully nick the seeds with a knife or a sharp object on one side to allow easy sprouting. 

A single small nick in each seed should be sufficient and will not damage the seed. 

Option Four: Breaking Open the Shell

Using pliers, crack open the outer shell, being careful not to damage the inner seed. 

Read Also >> How to Grow a Fig Tree From Seed

Step Two: Stratification

Stratification is the process of exposing seeds to simulated conditions in nature. 

In the case of cherry blossom seeds, which won’t germinate unless they experience winter conditions, stratification mimics winter and coaxes the seeds into sprouting. 

Yet, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, scarification and stratification aren’t necessary if you’ve freshly harvested the seeds. 

But, if you are unsure about how fresh your seeds are, opt for stratification just in case. 

Additionally, keep in mind that seed quality decreases the longer you store your seeds. 

So, you don’t want the stratification process to go on for too long because old seeds will likely not grow properly. 

Performing Stratification

What you will need for stratification: 

  • Sieve
  • Large Ziploc bag or plastic container with an airtight lid
  • Damp paper towels
  • Tweezers
  • Prepared seeds

How to perform stratification:

  1. After scarification, rinse your sakura seeds with water in the sieve
  2. Using tweezers, transfer your seeds onto a damp paper towel
  3. Wrap your seeds in the paper towel and place the towel with the seeds into an airtight plastic bag (like Ziploc)
  4. Place the bag in the lower drawer of your refrigerator, known as the “crisper drawer,” where you usually keep your fruits and vegetables. 
  5. Check inside the bag weekly for signs of sprouting
  6. Depending on the variety of cherry blossom tree, it can take 2 to 8 weeks for seeds to sprout

And, an important reminder: don’t put the seeds in the freezer. 

The crisper drawer is just cold enough for the seeds to properly germinate, as it best mimics their natural environment in late winter/early spring.

If the seeds get too cold, they won’t sprout, so don’t place them in freezing conditions. 

Read Also >> How to Germinate Seeds With Paper Towel?

Step Three: Transferring Seedlings to Pots or a Seed Tray

To transfer your seedlings, you will need to:

  1. Prepare the soil. (Sakuras thrive in potting soil designed for roses). 
  2. Mix sand into your soil until the soil is about 30% sand
  3. Using tweezers, transfer the seedlings into the soil, one seedling per pot (or cell, if you’re using a seed tray)
  4. Move the seed tray or pot into a sunny, well-lit area, which will make your seeds grow faster.
  5. Water your seeds twice a week – not enough to fully soak all soil in the pot, but enough to wet the top layer of soil
  6. Optional: directly after planting seeds or transferring saplings, use a copper-based fungicide to prevent mold

Additionally, it’s important to remember that cherry blossom seeds and seedlings do not thrive in extreme temperatures. 

Therefore, do not let your seedlings sit in temperatures below 59 degrees or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Read Also >> How to Grow Aloe Vera from Seed?

Can I Plant My Cherry Blossom Tree Outside? 

In the U.S., cherry blossom trees are hardy enough to grow well in Zones 5 through 8. 

So depending on your zone, you can definitely plant your cherry blossom tree outside. 

Conclusion 

With the popularity of cherry blossoms around the world, many people want to grow a tree for themselves. 

However, to grow one of these beautiful trees, you need to make sure that you carefully follow the steps above for maximum results.

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