Source:Taynish National Nature Reserve, local schools pack (SNH)
- To grow native trees from seed and cuttings
- To plant native trees
A year or two!
You will need
- collecting bags & seed from local native trees
- flower pots or fish boxes
- small stones
- plastic bags
- plant labels
Did you know?The Glen Affric pine wood is one of the largest remnants of ancient pine wood in Scotland. It is home to pine martens and red squirrels amongst many other animals and has, of course, many old and great Scots pine trees. There are many other native trees in these woodlands such as birch, hazel, rowan, ash, aspen, alder, juniper and holly. Beinn Eighe, Glen Affric and Abernethy National Nature Reserves are excellent examples of woodland habitats that may be interesting to study. See 'Where to go' for more information.
Before the Activity
Decide which trees or shrubs you want to grow. This will depend on where you
are going to plant them and whether you want small or large
trees. You may be able to plant a hedgerow or shelter belt in the school
grounds or by contacting a local ranger, reserve warden or landowner,
you may be able to collect and grow seed to help in the management of a local
woodland. It is better to plant trees that are native to Scotland, as these will
be hardy and provide better wildlife benefits than non-native trees. Note that
Beech, Sycamore, Maple and Larch, although widely planted, are not native to
- Collect seed in late summer and autumn. Only take a few seeds from each tree so that the seeds are not all genetically similar. Ensure that the seeds are ripe by taking them from the ground or the lower branches of the tree. Store the seeds in a porous sack and keep cool. You can also collect cuttings and berries from shrubs such as guelder rose, dog rose and elder.
- Read up about growing your chosen trees and shrubs using the links in downloads below and check to see if any pre-treatment is needed before planting. For example, soak hard nuts such as acorns and hazels in warm water overnight, only use seeds which sink as the others won't grow. Take the cups off the acorns.
- Put a handful of small stones in the bottom of the pots or containers to help with drainage. Fill the containers about 2/3 full of compost. Water the compost so that it is moist but not soggy. Place the seeds on the top and cover with their height of compost. Only put one seed in each pot, or space out well if in a large container.
- Place a plastic bag over the compost to keep the seed moist. Leave the pot in a sunny spot to germinate. An acorn will take about 2 months, others are faster or slower. Remove the plastic bag as soon as the seed germinates. Water about once a week and the class can keep a record of the growth rates, using photographs, drawings and measurements.
- Put the pots outside in the spring and water regularly. Plant out in the autumn. Dig a hole a bit larger than the pot, add a little new compost or fertilizer. Gently tip out the seedling and soil (by putting the seedling between the middle fingers of one hand, tipping up the pot and tapping the bottom of it), plant in the hole straightaway , press down firmly and water it in.
- Keep the seedlings watered in dry spells and keep the ground around the
trees free from other plants and grass (as these take light and food away
from the trees).
Suggested Follow up
Willow and Aspen can also be grown from cuttings and transplanted root suckers, and can produce good results. Willow cuttings could also be used to make structures/sculptures.
Try some of the leaf activities suggested in the activity Leaf Games n the Woodland Ways section.
See the activity Designing tree tubes in this
- Tips for getting the best results for different seeds, Growing trees from seed
- Easy trees to grow for young children
- Commonly planted native shrubs and small trees
- Living willow structures
- A Tree Name Trail from Forestry Commission
- The Field Studies Council makes a laminated fold-out tree guide of common tree species
- Information on tree folklore and uses Trees for Life
- Celtic tree alphabet
- List of
plants and wildflowers available as seeds or small plants