Black Cottonwood Tree Seeds

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About & Species

Black Cottonwood Tree
(Populus trichocarpa)

The Black Cottonwood, also known as the Western Balsam Poplar or California Poplar is one of the tallest and fastest growing hardwood trees in the Western United States. It can grow 125 to 150 feet tall. It is a well-known tree found along rivers and streams throughout the West. The Black Cottonwood tree is best used as a windbreak. Not ideal for homes. Its aggressive root system makes it a favorite tree for large-scale restoration projects.  

Growth Rate: Medium to fast

Soil Type: Grows best in deep alluvial soils. Prefers wet sites over dry sites. Commonly found along rivers and streams.

Zones: 5 to 9

Germination Range: 60-80%

Stratification Requirement: None required

Indoor Planting: If your seeds require stratification or scarification – do the recommended pretreatment before planting indoors. Planting Instructions: Fill a container with seed starting mix to about ½ inch from the top. Place your seeds 1 inch to 1 ½ inches below the soil surface. Gently water your seeds to keep moist, not soaking wet. Heat & humidity is critical for germination. Germination may occur in 1 week or as long as 3 months (depending on the species). Place the seed container on a heat mat under growing light(s). Keep your growing lights on 14 hours per day. Keep your heat mat on 24 hours per day. Once your seeds germinate, move each seed into its own container under the growing lights and on the heat mat. Keep your seedlings indoors for 2-3 months before transplanting outdoors in the spring (May to June).

Outdoor Planting: If your seeds do not require stratification: the best time to plant tree and shrub seeds outdoors is after the last frost in your area (spring). In the Northern states – the best time to plant seeds outdoors is from May to June. If your seeds require pretreatment: you should plant your seeds outdoors before the ground freezes in your area (late September to early November). Your seeds will naturally stratify during the cold winter. Germination usually occurs in May or during the spring season.