Coprosma propinqua fruit.Coprosma propinqua fruit.Growing from seed is the easiest and most commonly used method of propagating native trees and shrubs. It’s the best way to produce large numbers of plants. Find out more about what different seeds look like, seed collection, and check out our tips for growing from seed.

What you’ll need

To grow your own native plants from seed you’ll need the following:

  • Seeds – collected locally
  • Seed trays
  • Seed raising mix
  • Labels and pens (permanent)
  • Pea gravel
  • Protective frame with a shade cloth
  • Watering can.

Know your seeds

Koromiko seed is very fine, like dust.Koromiko seed is very fine, like dust.Before you can start collecting seeds, you need to know what to look for. Examples of different types of seeds are:

  • Fluffy seed – for example, clematis.
  • Hard-coated seed – for example, kowhai.
  • Fruit-covered seed (berries) – for example, coprosma, cabbage tree, wineberry.
  • Sticky seed – for example, kohuhu.
  • Seeds in pods – for example, manuka and rata.
  • Dry seeds – for example, grasses and tussock.

When to collect your seeds

Broadleaf with mature, black fruit.Broadleaf with mature, black fruit.Most seeds are ready to collect from late summer to early winter (February to June). Berries will usually change from green (unripe) to red, white, black or blue when ripe. Check fruiting trees regularly over late summer – autumn to observe changes in fruit colour. This way you’ll be ready to harvest the berries (and the seeds they contain) before the birds do! Birds love to eat ripe berries so you’ll have to be quick.

See the table below for seed collecting times for native plants in Southland:

Plant speciesCommon nameSeed typeColour when ripeCollection time
Aristotelia serratawineberry, makomakoFleshy fruitblackFebruary
Astelia fragransbush lilyFleshy fruitorangeFebruary - April
Carex sectapedicelled sedgeSmall nutFebruary
Carex virgatawetland sedgeSmall nutFebruary
Carpodetus serratusmarbleleaf, putaputawetaFleshy fruitblackJune
Chionochloa rubrared tussockDry seedFebruary
Coprosma propinquamingimingiFleshy fruitblue (ranging from pale to dark blue)March - April
Cordyline australiscabbage treeFleshy fruitwhiteMay
Cortaderia richardiitoetoeDry seedFebruary
Clematis paniculataclematisDry seedApril
Dacrycarpus dacrydioideskahikateaFleshy fruitorange/redApril
Ficinia spiralispingao, golden sand sedgeSmall nutMarch - April
Elaeocarpus hookerianuspokakaFleshy fruitpurpleMay
Fuchsia excorticatafuchsiaFleshy fruitblackFebruary
Griselinia littoralisbroadleafFleshy fruitblue/blackFebruary - May
Hebe ellipticacoastal hebeDry seedFebruary - April
Hebe salicifoliakoromikoDry seedFebruary - April
Hoheria angustifolialacebarkDry seedApril - May
Leptospermum scopariummanukaDry seedJuly
Melicytus lanceolatusnarrow-leaved mahoeFleshy fruitdark purple/blackFebruary - April
Metrosideros umbellatasouthern rataDry seedMarch - May
Myrsine australisRed mapouFleshy fruitblackFebruary
Myrsine divaricataWeeping mapouFleshy fruitdark purpleFebruary - May
Nothofagus menziesiiSilver beechDry seedMarch
Pennantia corymbosaKaikomakoFleshy fruitblackFebruary - April
Phormium tenaxflax/harakekeDry seedApril
Pittosporum eugenioideslemonwood/tarataSticky seedAll year
Pittosporum tenuifoliumkohuhuSticky seedAll year
Plagianthus regiusLowland ribbonwoodDry seedFebruary - March
Podocarpus halliiThin-barked totara, Hall’s totaraFleshy fruitredMay
Prumnopitys ferrugineamiroFleshy fruitRed – but may be covered in a bluish ‘bloom’April - May
Prumnopitys taxifoliamataiFleshy fruitPurple – with bluish ‘bloom’April - May
Pseudowintera coloratapepperwood/horopitoFleshy fruitReddish black to blackFebruary - April
Schefflera digitataPate, sevenfingerFleshy fruitpurpleApril
Sophora microphyllakowhaiDry seed in podAll year
Weinmannia recemosakamahiDry seedMay

When collecting seeds, remember to write down the species you collected the seed from and the date of collection.

Seed preparation

Different seed types need to be prepared differently before sowing:

Kohuhu has sticky black seeds.Kohuhu has sticky black seeds.Dry seed, fluffy seed and seed from pods

  • Keep dry in paper bags until you are ready to sow.
  • Keep them warm and dry to prevent fungal problems.

Sticky seed

  • Rub sand in with the seeds to separate them – making them easier to sow.
  • For example, Pittosporums.

Hard-coated seed

  • Cover with boiling water and let cool – this softens the hard exterior and aids germination.
  • For example, Kowhai.

Coprosma lucida berries.Coprosma lucida berries.Fruit-covered seed

  • Remove the fruit from the seed by pushing through a fine sieve.
  • Lie the seed onto paper towel and blot off remaining fruit.
  • For example, Coprosma.

Note: there is no need to cold treat (stratify) seeds in Southland.

Sowing seeds

  1. Fill seed tray almost to the top with commercial seed raising mix (no weed seeds).
  2. Flatten the surface of the soil.
  3. Sow seeds onto the flattened surface.sowing Coprosma seeds April 2011sowing Coprosma seeds April 2011
  4. Cover with a layer of pea gravel – holds the seed down and helps retain moisture.
  5. Label with species name and date.
  6. Water the trays.
  7. Place in a protected area outside – protected from disturbance from cats, mice, etc.

Seed germination

Seeds will usually germinate in spring (September to October). Some large seeds, like miro, can take two seasons to germinate.

You can use heating to get seeds to germinate sooner. However, you’ll need a heated tunnelhouse to raise the seedlings in before the weather warms up. It’s best to follow nature and pot up your seedlings in spring.

Find out more

Contact us to find out more.