November is the ideal time to save and germinate tree seeds – the fruits are starting to dry and seed pods are splitting open.
The seeds of Euonymus europaeus are dormant and need to be ‘stratified’ (exposed to cold, damp conditions) to trigger them into growth. This would occur naturally in the ground over winter, but the process can be mimicked in the fridge. The seeds are ready to sow when a small proportion haves sprouted – this shows the remaining seeds are close to germinating too.
Sow the seeds in pots filled with good-quality seed compost, or in a prepared seedbed outdoors. Keep them protected from mice, watered and weed free, and grow on for a year or two before planting in their final positions.
Wait until the seed capsules split open, revealing ripe orange seeds inside. Always wear gloves or wash hands after handling, as all parts of this plant are toxic.
Opening a split spindle tree seed capsule to access the bright orange seeds inside
Remove the seeds from their capsules. Don’t use any that contain insects or their debris, or that have already fallen to the ground. Discard damaged seeds.
Removing bright orange spindle tree seeds from their bright pink seed capsules
Place the seeds in a bag filled with damp (but not wet) vermiculite or sharp sand. Mix in gently. Leave the bag slightly open to let air circulate. Label with the date.
Placing spindle tree seeds mixed with damp vermiculite into a plastic bag with a label
Keep warm (at around 15 degrees centigrade) for 10 weeks and don’t let them dry out. Then put in the fridge for up to 16 weeks. Once sprouted, sow immediately.
A bag of spindle tree seeds and damp vermiculite in a fridge for cold exposure to trigger germination
Other tree seeds to try
You can also try this technique on pear, cherry and sorbus.