Engelmann Spruce seeds are relatively easy to germinate and grow. The dormancy within the seed is short and easily broken. In fact the seeds can be sown without pre-treatment and achieve good results.
Start by soaking the seed in water for 24 hours.
Fill your chosen container with a good quality general potting compost. Suitable containers could be plant pots, seed trays or plug trays or even improvised containers with drainage holes. Firm the compost gently and sow the seeds on the surface. If you are sowing in plug trays, sow 2 or 3 seeds per cell. Cover the seeds with a couple of millimeters of vermiculite or failing that a fine layer of sieved compost. Follow with a gentle watering and keep them at room temperature. Germination will begin a week to 10 days from sowing. The seedlings are reasonably robust and trouble free and usually grow to a height of between 3 and 8cm in the first growing season depending on the sowing date. Densely sown seedlings are at risk from fungal diseases such as “damping off” which can cause rapid loss of many seedlings.
A slightly higher yield of seedlings can be achieved by a short period of cold stratification in the fridge. You can do this by first soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours. Fully drain away all of the water and place the seeds in a zip-lock freezer bag. Place the seeds in the fridge. After 3 to 4 weeks, germination of some seeds will be evident and all the seeds should be sown in the manor described above.
Developing seedlings should be fine in full sun, keep them well watered and free of competing weeds. Growth will accelerate in the second and subsequent years and the developing young trees should be re-potted as necessary preferably during the dormant season. After perhaps 3 years they are ready to be planted in their permanent position
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