Collect seed from berries

It’s a fun and easy experiment to try and grow your favourite bushes and trees.

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The abundant berries of autumn often remain all through winter, with rowans, cotoneasters, hawthorns and pyracanthas looking beautiful and bountiful for many months. If the birds get there first, however, you may have missed the boat! They usually don’t like some colours and varieties of certain things – it may be completely random – so hopefully you have some left.

It’s a real experiment to try and grow some bushes and trees from seed, but a fun one, and easy to do. Be aware that varietal shrubs may not grow true from seed though, and can revert to parent forms. Collect a few bunches of your favourites, such as callicarpa, rowan, cotoneaster, pyracantha or hawthorn, but wear gloves when handling yew, just to be safe from toxic branches.

Some plants are easier to germinate than others – rowan is easier than pyracantha, for example, as the latter needs a long period of cold to even think about germinating. Plus the outer flesh of many berries can act as a germination inhibitor, containing chemicals to stop the plant growing until it reaches optimum conditions.

Hence it’s common to try and remove most of the flesh from the berries before you sow, to give it a fighting chance. Many simply leave the flesh on and let it decide when it wants to germinate, however. Leave your sown trays or pots outside in the garden or in a cold frame, and protect from birds.