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I have some tulip tree seeds and need to know the proper way to start these beautiful trees from seed.
Hardiness Zone: 6b
By Linda from Morley, MO
I believe that Tulip Tree seeds (and their 'winged' nature) are going to go beyond just soaking. Now is a good time to plant the seeds, but, you are coming close to the end of the season because the seeds require some cold period (such as some flower bulbs) in order to germinate.
Tulip Tree (Liriodendrum sp) is not difficult to germinate - but, the amount of seeds (viability as we call it) in these species is low - so, you will not get a seedling for every seed which you plant. You should remove and break open the wing like structures on each seed. Then, store them in the refrigerator for about 2-3 months (the reason I said now may be good to plant is because it is still cold out - and this may 'mimic' the natural cold season better than if you were to plant them during the Summertime).
Plant them indoors in sterile potting soils (which you can buy at a nursery - or mix half peat and half vermiculite also at your nursery/hardware store). Then, wrap the entire contraption up in a plastic bag - soil, pot, and broken and refrigerated seeds - and wait about 6-10 weeks for germination. Once they germinate, open up holes in the plastic 'greenhouse' to allow air to come in and not to promote fungus. As they get larger, remove the plastic all together and start to expose them to outdoor conditions very slowly -- have your patience ready because it will probably be 2-3 years before you have something which you can begin to plant outdoors as young trees, etc.
I love these trees - just feel comfortable breaking up the winged seeds, refrigerate to keep them in a cold spell, then plant and wait. Good luck.