To grow kowhai from seed, you must germinate the seeds in a moist seed raising mix in a shady location.
Then, you need to transplant the seedlings into small pots/containers, gradually increasing the space for the roots until they’re ready to plant in the ground.
The kowhai tree is a woody legume that creates beautiful yellow blooms.
And if you’ve ever wanted to grow this plant from seed, all you need to do is follow these step-by-step instructions.
If you do, you’ll have one of these New Zealand natives for yourself.
5 Steps to Grow Kowhai From Seed
Step One: Germinate Your Seeds
The first step to growing kowhai is to germinate your seeds, which you can do in a small container or a seed-raising tray.
In New Zealand, where this tree is native, spring is a good time to sow kowhai seeds.
However, if you live elsewhere, you may want to find out what time of year is best to begin to grow kowhai.
After you’ve got your container or tray, you’ll need to prepare your seeds.
To do this, you need to penetrate the seeds’ outer shell so that water can get inside.
You can do so by either rubbing the seed against a rough surface or chipping it gently with a knife.
But, don’t remove the seed coating completely.
Instead, just break it enough to expose the inside part.
Next, you should fill your container with a seed-raising mix no more than 1 inch (3 cm) from the top, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Then, before you sow the seeds into the mix, tamp down on the soil gently.
Afterward, insert a kowhai seed ¼ of an inch (½ cm) into your soil.
Now, cover the sown seeds with a thin layer of the mix.
Once you’ve sown the seeds, wet the mixture and keep it damp as the plant grows.
However, never overwater your kowhai seeds, or they could rot.
Finally, you’ll want to keep the germination tray or container in a shaded or low-lit location while it’s germinating.
Additionally, make sure your seeds don’t get too cold.
Typically, do not let their temperature fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C).
Step Two: Transplant Your Seedling Into a Larger Container
The next step is to allow the sprout to acquire its first pair of leaves.
Once it does, you should prepare to transplant it into a slightly larger container.
And don’t wait too long, or else the seedling might grow too large for the small amount of seed raising mix to sustain it with nutrients.
Additionally, transplanting kowhai as early as possible in the seedling stage protects the roots from damage.
So, to easily transplant your seedling, you should get a tube-shaped container, such as a cardboard roll.
Then, place the tube in a gardening tray so that the bottom is supported, and fill it with a low fertility potting mix.
Next, use a thin tool such as a pencil or gardening trowel to make an opening in the potting soil where the seedling can go.
You can now carefully place the seedling down into the hole and then move some of the soil gently around the seedling’s roots.
Keep the soil damp as the seedling remains in a low-light location for at least seven days as you prepare to transplant again.
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Step Three: Transplant Your Seedling Into a Pot
Once your seedling has recovered from its transplant and is about 4 inches (10 cm) tall, you can move it to an even larger container.
A small gardening pot will work fine for this purpose.
But, you should not choose a pot that is too large for the size of the plant, as it could create drainage issues.
Also, make sure to water the seedling regularly and give it ample sunlight so it can continue to grow.
Then, re-transplant your seedling again into a slightly larger pot after a few weeks.
The root system should be much stronger at this point and much more solid.
Additionally, note that kowhais need plenty of sunlight and warmth, so you’ll have to keep your tree sheltered from the outside during cold temperatures.
Thus, it may be best to place your tree in a sunroom or other indoor sunny area for the winter.
Step Four: Transplant Your Tree Into Bags
When it comes to growing trees from seed, they will require a grow bag at a certain point.
Once they start to get too large for a pot, they need progressively larger growing bags to hold the root ball.
And your kowhai will need a bag once it has reached 1-2 feet (31-61 cm) in height, which should happen when the tree is about 2-3 years old.
You should start by using a PB ¾ growing bag, then move on to a size PB2/PB3, then PB6.5, PB8, and so on as the tree grows.
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Step Five: Plant Your Tree
Finally, you can plant your young kowhai tree once spring arrives again.
You should plant it in a sheltered area of your garden where it will not have to withstand wind and cold and can get a lot of drainage and sun.
Also, make sure you use sandy soil or neutral loam to plant your kowhai and surround the base of the tree soil with a few inches of mulch.
Then, you’ll just need to carefully tend to your new kowhai tree as it adapts to its new environment.
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Overall, kowhais are fun and relatively simple trees to grow.
Plus, they can give you years of beauty.
Thus, growing a kowhai from seed can be a rewarding way to get one of these trees for your garden.