Planting Picea Abies (Norway Spruce) from seeds

Desired Outcome:
-A miniature Norway Spruce, planted from seeds


Action Steps
Q: Which growing zone is Central Coast, CA?
A: San Luis Obispo County, California is in USDA Hardiness Zones 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a and 10b.

Note: Seedlings are highly susceptible to fungi and bacteria

Q: How many frost free days does this plant need?
A: 120 days
Note: That means that day one of planting is the first “last frost” day, which means I have to consider the pre-treatment process period

Q: When is the first “last frost” day for San Luis Obispo/Pismo Beach?
A: February 15th
Note: XREF to University of CA – Agriculture and Natural Resources

Q: When do you plant the seeds?
Note: Keep in mind the three week Pre-treatment process
A: 1/18/21
Note: In my case, actual seed planting was 20210122

Q: What is the process for Seed Pre-treatment (cold stratified and primed in water)?
A: Place seeds in a sealable sandwich (ZipLoc) bag and store in refrigerator for three weeks. Then, soak in water for 24 hours. Any rotten or hollow seeds will float to the surface.
Note: Packet contained 4 seeds, so we’ll see how that goes.
NOTE: 20201231 – after 24 hours, 1 seed of 4 was floating on surface. Cracked it open – yup! hollow. This means I have three seeds now to work with.
NOTE: I think the wording was incorrect in original instructions.
According to this site, I FIRST soak for 24 hours in water, THEN place in fridge for a couple weeks, and ensure seeds don’t dry out (check on weekly) –
NOTE: I read someplace that to ensure the seeds stay moist, you place them on a moist towel, and then wrap that in a dry towel, and then place all that inside a ZipLoc bag and seal it. So far so good on that method.
Note: When I took the seeds out, I noticed that there was still moisture in the ziploc bag, so the idea of wrapping in various moist and dry paper-towels, and placing in a sealed plastic bag, appeared to do the trick. The paper towel around the seeds was still moist.

Q: How do your prepare the “soil” that’s included in the box?
A: Fill up a pot with 1/2 cup (4 oz) of lukewarm water; place pellet; leave overnight (for full absorption); stir until fully loosened and separated.
Note: I didn’t leave the soil overnight. I planted in pot at end of evening.

Q: How much to fill the planter with the grow mix (soil)?
A: About 90%

Q: What are the steps for placing the seeds?
A: Evenly spread the seeds on top of the soil
A: Place 1/6 inch (.5cm) of grow mix over the seeds
Note: Plant does not need access to sunlight in order to germinate

Q: How long to germinate?
A: These seeds are slow germinators, and will take about 4 weeks to sprout.
Note: Mine took 3 weeks to sprout one seed, so I’ve learned to be patient.

Q: Where do you ideally place the planter?
A: In a warm spot (68 degrees F) – in other words, indoors by the window.

Q: How do you keep the soil moist/watered?
A: Keep it moist; avoid soaking completely; ideally spray the water.

Q: What do you do when seedlings have grown to about 2 to 4 inches?
A: Moisten the seedbed and carefully separate the fragile seedlings – don’t damage the stems or roots while transplanting.
A: Transplant them into larger planters, about 8 to 10 inches apart.
Note: I’ll probably just pick the two best seedlings and transplant them into two plastic pots I got from $Tree
A: Place the planter in garden – in my case, out on the patio
Note: My patio is sun/shade

Q: How to maintain the plant’s structure?
A: Suggestion is to stake the plant, so it grows upright. This ensures all growing flowers are capturing adequate sunlight.

Q: When do you fertilize and using what fertilizer?
A: When seedlings are about 2 to 3 inches and just before the first transplantation.
A: Suggestion to use liquid fertilizer and follow the instructions on bottle.

Q: When and how much to water?
A: Regularly, but not over doing it. Suggestion is to use a water sprayer.

Q: When to relocate the plant to outside?
A: After the last frost — which is February 15th.

Q: Any warnings?
A: Don’t eat the seeds. OK.

Q: When I can decorate the tree?
A: Well, it takes years… With the correct care, and plenty of sun, I should have this plant/tree for many years.

Q: What are some additional sites for reference (that were on the package)?
A: and search code: TG274

Timeline Summary and Action Tracker:

Done – 20201227 – Place seeds in refrigerator (in a sandwich bag) for three weeks
Done – 20201230 – Placed seeds in water for 24 hours (new instructions)
NOTE: 1 out of the 4 seeds continued floating on surface, so I discarded it. I took a knife to it — and it was hollow.
Done – 20201231 – Drain water away; placed seeds in bag; placed into fridge for about 3 wks
NOTE: Not sure if this is OK, but placed the three seeds on a piece of paper towel that was slightly moist and then placed all that in the ZipLoc bag and placed in refrigerator
Done – 20210102 – Checked on moisture. Added some water; placed a dry papertowel around it; and resealed into the ZipLoc bag – that should do it.
Done – 20210114 – Checked Ziploc bag – appeared to have moisture inside, so left alone
Done – 20210122 – Place soil pellet in water for 24 hours. Placed in small tray and added just over a 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Positioned tray so that the pellet will absorb all water. Leave it alone for today.
Done – 20210122 – Mix soil and place about 90% in pot; place (3) seeds in soil, apart from each other; cover; add a small amount of water; place inside by south-facing window
Done – 20210212 – Was getting concerned (3 weeks later), but today I saw one of the seedlings pop-up. Very cool! I’ve been watering using a mister, so I’ll continue doing that. Haven’t seen any action yet from the other two seeds.
Done – 20210214 – So far so good. One seedling is up and out with about .5 inch growth already. About 4 to 5 strands coming from top.
Done – 20210222 – Quick update. A couple days, a second shoot came up. Now I have two little trees! They both have a stem with a couple shoots coming off in different directions.

20210501 – Place Plant outside (after seedlings about 2 to 4 inches)
Note: I transplanted to a bigger pot, and was surprised at how much root structure (at least 3″ or so) was below surface. Top of plant has 7 or 8 green “leaves”, but I’m not seeing much vertical or trunk growth.
20210515 – Figured out that I needed to place plant ideally in slightly acidic well-drained soil – Loam. Went to hardware store and got some fertilizer, as I don’t want to buy a huge bag of soil for this little tree. Now for the calculations: I figured I had a 5 to 6″ size pot which converts to 0.03 cubic feet. The ratio is 1 cup of fertilizer to .25 cubic feet of soil. Therefore, my formula is 1 cup * .03 divided by .25 comes out .12 cubic feet. .12 cubic feet in tablespoons is 1.92 — 2 tablespoons. You place the 2 tablespoons of fertilizer around root area of plant; then add more soil; then place more fertilizer (which I calculated as 1 more tablespoon) around the top of the plant and mix into soil. That’s my calculation, and it better be correct — logically, it did come out to about 2 tablespoons, so I think I’m OK. Added some water. See what happens.

20211229 – Update
-I hadn’t updated the blog…
-The project didn’t work out.
-What happened was that, while I saw decent root structure, the plant above the top of the soil was not doing anything.
-Back to the drawing board

About Paul

CERT Coordinator, Ham Radio Operator, GTD Fan; Photographer; Domino/Notes Administrator
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