Blackthorn, Sloe (prunus spinosa)
10 grams (approx 54 seeds) £1.25
25 grams (approx 135 seeds) £1.75
50 grams (approx 270 seeds) £3.25
100 grams (approx 540 seeds) £5.75
250 grams (approx 1350 seeds) £13.50
500 grams (approx 2700 seeds) £25.00
1000 grams (approx 5400 seeds) £45.00
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It is native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in Northwest Africa.The leaves are oval with a serrated margin.
Creamy-white flowers appear on the leafless branches in late winter or very early spring and can make a very eye catching display at this time of year. The fruit, called a "sloe", is a drupe 10–12 millimeters (0.39–0.47 in) in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn, and harvested in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh and are mainly sought after to be made into sloe gin.
Germination, Sowing and After Care Information for
Blackthorn/Sloe (prunus spinosa)
First prepare a free draining substrate into which the seeds are to be mixed, this can be a 50/50 mixture of compost and sharp sand, or perlite, vermiculite or even just pure sharp sand has worked well for me. The chosen substrate needs to be moist (but not wet), if you can squeeze water out of it with your hand it is too wet and your seeds may drown and die. Mix the seeds into the substrate, making sure that their is enough volume of material to keep the seeds separated. Place the seed mixture into a clear plastic bag (freezer bags, especially zip lock bags are very useful for this -provided a little gap is left in the seal for air exchange) If it is not a zip-lock type bag it needs to be loosely tied. Then write the date on the bag so that you know when the pre-treatment was started.
The seeds first require a period of warm pre-treatment and need to be kept in temperatures of 20 Celsius (68F) for a period of at least 2 weeks - it is not critical if it lasts a week or two longer than this. During this time make sure that the pre-treatment medium does not dry out at any stage or it will be ineffective!
Next the seeds require a cold period to break the final part of the dormancy, this is easily achieved by placing the bag in the fridge (4 Celsius or 39F) for at least 18 weeks, again if it is for a little longer it does not matter. It is quite possible for the seeds to germinate in the bag at these temperatures when they are ready to do so, if they do, just remove them from the bag and carefully plant them up. Seeds that are ready to germinate will have split the hard outer case and can quickly begin to produce a root.
For small quantities I tend to just leave the seeds in the fridge and remove the germinated ones as they arise and plant them up. I find that this way you can get the maximum number to germinate. After a few months any remaining ungerminated seeds can have the whole warm and cold process repeated again. For larger quantities it is easiest to sow the seeds in a well prepared seedbed once the warm and cold pre-treatments have finished and wait for the seeds to germinate. Seeds that are ready to germinate will have split the hard outer case, if they have not done so the pre-treatment is not yet complete or has been ineffective due to incorrect temperatures or incorrect moisture content of the pre-treatment medium.
It has also been found that fluctuating pre-treatment temperatures can give the best germination results and I have myself had excellent results by keeping the mixed seeds in a cold shed through the winter for the cold stage of their pre-treatment and allowing the temperature to fluctuate naturally.
Do not expose newly sown seeds to high temperatures (above 25 Celsius) otherwise a secondary dormancy may be induced and the seeds will not germinate until they have been pre-treated again. Germinated seeds can be planted in deep pots or plug trays in a good quality compost. Keep the seedlings well watered and weed free.
Growth in the first year is usually between 30 and 60 cm and usually trouble free. Allow them to grow for 1 or 2 years before planting them in a permanent position.