Horse Chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum)
Seed Prices -All quantities are now unavailable. New crop in October 2018
5 seeds £0.99
10 seeds £1.75
250 grams (approx 18 seeds) £2.50
500 grams (approx 35 seeds) £3.75
1 Kg (approx 70 seeds) £6.00
These seeds contain no dormancy and should begin to germinate as soon as soil conditions are warm enough
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It is fast growing and soon forms an impressive large domed tree growing up to around 30m (98ft) in height with a 15m (49ft) spread.
It is mainly planted for its spectacular Springtime show of creamy white, honey scented flowers. These are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
The resulting fruits that ripen in September and October are the distinctive "conkers" which used to be an essential part of every schoolboys pockets. Young trees can start flowering and producing seeds from around 20 years old.
It is a very hardy tree when it is dormant, however the new soft Spring growth can be damaged by late frosts.
Suitable for planting on a wide range of soils it prefers a well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor dry soils. The plant can tolerates strong winds and atmospheric pollution but not maritime exposure.
Although it is seen to its best advantage in an open, sunny position it can also be grown as a woodland tree and in semi shade.
Trees are tolerant of drastic cutting back and can be severely lopped or pollarded to control their size as they are often seen in France. Young trees transplant quite easily and can grow away well even if they are moved when they fairly large.
Germination, Sowing and After Care Information for
Horse Chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum
It is perfectly possible for these seeds to begin to germinate during their passage through the postal system. In such a case they need to be planted immediately on arrival. Seeds of the oak species can sustain root breakage with no detrimental effect and the emerging root can be snipped off at about 1cm from the emergence point on the acorn if excessive root growth needs to be controlled. The seedling will produce a more fibrous root system as a result.
For sowing deep containers are required to accommodate the strong tap-roots of this species. Pots at least 20cm should be used and serious growers should consider using modules such as root trainers that allow air pruning of the roots to take place. These allow the production of superb young plants with no root distortion. Planting in shallow containers will cause severe root deformation
Fill your chosen container with a good quality compost and press the seed into it to a depth of a couple of cm's (just under 1 inch) The orientation of the seed is not critical, generally speaking it is best if the root emerges to one side of the seed. Make sure that the seed is covered, watered and place in a frost free place for germination to begin. If the seeds of the species become frozen they will die! The seeds can be planted in Autumn left to produce a taproot and then left quiet through the winter in a cool but frost free place. In the Spring these seeds will quickly emerge and begin growth and will have a significant head start over Spring sown seeds.
If you do need to store your seeds you can mix them with dry peat and place them in a cool, dry, frost free, mouse free place through the winter. The bag that they are placed in should not be tied! If the peat is even slightly moist the seeds will begin to grow. The peat keeps the seeds separated which prevents them from sweating and heating. It also allows them to respire but not dry out too much. If you keep the seeds dry in a bag until Spring it is very likely that they will be dead before they are sown.
Initial shoot growth is very rapid and within a few weeks from germination the seedlings will be between 10 and 20cm high. The trees will then rest for a few weeks before developing a terminal bud that will break into rapid new growth if the conditions are right. This usually brings height growth to 20 to 40cm. To encourage maximum growth ensure that the trees are never stressed because of a lack of water and that they are well nourished and grown in a warm, sunny position.
Trees should be planted in their permanent position as soon as is practical. If they are large enough, at the end of their first growing season and certainly at the end of the second. Allowing them to be grown in too shallow a container for any length of time will cause permanent root deformities that can lead to the failure of the tree once it grows to a large stature.