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How to germinate osage orange

Read on the Internet, fill a bucket (or container)full of fallen Osage Oranges, and some water, and leave them set out all winter (Ohio). In the spring they’ll be brown and squashy. Mix them up into a slurry, dig a furrow about 1-1 1/2 deep, and pour in the slurry, cover with about a 1/2″ of dirt. Tried this last year 2009-2010 and had plenty of germination. Furrow was about 8′ long and probably had 100 seedlings, and this is in hard clay.

I’ve been growing them for two years, and I’ve had great luck. I collect the fruit September – November: I choose big, healthy-looking fruit that has fallen from the tree. Then I leave it on my deck in a plastic tray or box, letting the freeze-thaw cycles do the work for me.
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Eventually, the fruit becomes soft enough to be separated easily. Pull good seeds from the middle of the fruit.I planted my seeds about a half-inch under the soil in various containers. All of them came up. However, I remember that I planted them early, and they didn’t sprout for what I thought was a long time. I also planted far too many seeds – which meant that I had to select the best seedlings and scrap or transplant the rest. I tried separating, but my transplanted seedlings all wilted.

My best plants, interestingly, came from a chunk of fruit that I tossed into a pot of old soil and oak leaves (the pot had a chainfern in it originally). Anyhow, two really vigorous volunteers sprouted up late, grew about a foot and a half, and held their leaves well into fall. One plant has thorns, one doesn’t. This winter, I carefully separated the plants (one for my sister, one for me), unbound their bright orange roots, and re-potted them. Now, they are both putting out new leaves! I have an experimental runt osage, too, that is sprouting. If it stays compact, it’ll become a bonsai.

So, my advice: give them plenty of room to grow (one gallon or better), and watch them for sunburn. You should have a lot of success.

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