The American beech tree is popular for its deep gold or copper autumn foliage and for its shade-producing canopy. Although you can purchase a sapling and transplant it into your yard, planting beech tree seeds is relatively simple. Follow the steps below to grow beech trees from seed.
Step 1 - Collect Beech Tree Seeds
When collecting beech tree seeds, find a healthy beech tree that is growing within a 100 mile radius of where you will be planting the seeds. This will ensure that the soil and climate it will be growing in is best matched for the variety of beech tree. Seeds should be collected in the autumn, between mid-September and late-November, once they are beginning to fall from the tree. The brown husks of fully ripened beech seed will begin to open on its own, showing that it is ready to be planted.
Step 2 - Prepare the Planting Area
Beech trees should be planted in a sandy loam soil. Turn up the planting area with a spade and then rake through. For best results, test the soil where you collected the seed. If possible, attempt to match the soil texture and pH level of your planting area with the conditions where its parent plant grows.
Step 3 - Plant Beech Tree Seeds
Sow seeds as soon as possible after collecting in the autumn. Seeds should be sown shallowly, about ½ inch deep. If you want to produce a large crop of beech trees for commercial or personal use, sow about 50 seeds per square inch. They can be thinned down later. Sowing the seeds in the autumn will allow them to naturally stratify during the winter, encouraging a better germination rate in the spring. Cover the seedbed with a wire mesh cloth to keep out the squirrels and other small rodents and keep in place until the spring. Remove wire mesh before the seeds begin to sprout. If you only want to grow one tree, consider planting it in a container. If you can move your seedling indoors during the winter and place under a growing light, it will grow faster.
Step 4 - Care for Beech Seedlings
Weed the seedbed regularly, as weeds offer competition for moisture and nutrients in the soil. If possible, provide the saplings with shade for half of the day. As the saplings grow, consider surrounding them with a tree shelter to keep them safe from scavengers. If you are growing a large number of seedlings, after one year thin out the weakest half and discard (or plant elsewhere they seem healthy). Water regularly during the dry times. Check the soil often, watering when the top several inches are dry.
Step 5 - Transplant Seedlings
Seedlings can be transplanted to their permanent location in the spring of their second year. Plant in an area that receives full sunlight and water weekly until the tree is fully established. If you are living in an area that receives regular rainfall, additional watering will probably not be necessary.
Enjoy watching your beech tree grow tall and strong as it provides shade and beauty!