The smoke tree is also known as the American smoke tree, smoke bush and Texas smoke tree. It gets its name from the stems of its flowers, which appear puffy and cloud-like and resemble billowing smoke. Smoke trees can grow to 30 feet tall, depending on the variety. Planting smoke trees from seed requires careful preparation, and it can take as long as two years for the seeds to germinate.
Preparing Smoke Tree Seeds
Cut off a branch of a smoke tree that includes the stems and dried or semi-dried blossoms. Do this in late April, as suggested by Wildflower.org.
Place the branch inside a paper bag to air dry for three to four weeks, or until the seeds start to drop from the branch when the bag is shaken.
Measure 1 to 1-1/2 cups of sphagnum peat moss. Put the peat moss in a metal or plastic colander. Pour water over the moss until it is moist.
Place the moistened sphagnum moss into a zipper-top plastic bag.
File, knick or cut off a section on each of the smoke tree seeds using a nail file, a piece of sandpaper or a sharp knife. Removing a section of the seed coat will improve rates of germination.
Put the smoke tree seeds into the plastic bag containing the moistened moss. Store the bag for five months in a location that will stay at a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A good location for storing the bag is on top of a water heater.
Remove the bag from its warm storage location and place it in a refrigerator that is between 38 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the bag in the refrigerator for 80 days. Check on the bag at least once a week to make sure the moss remains moist. Mist it with water as needed.
Remove the smoke tree seeds from the plastic bag and separate the seeds from the sphagnum moss. Place the seeds into a metal or ceramic bowl. Pour approximately one inch of water over the seeds and let them soak for 12 hours, or overnight.
Planting Smoke Tree Seeds
Scoop in a sterilized potting mix into one-gallon plastic pots until each is full of soil to approximately half an inch from the top.
Pour in about one quart of water into the one-gallon pots to moisten the potting mix thoroughly.
Poke three or four 3/8-inch-deep holes in the center of each one-gallon pot using the eraser end of a pencil or a chopstick.
Plant one smoke tree seed in each of the holes. Cover the smoke tree seeds with no more than 3/8 inch of potting mix.
Place each of the one-gallon pots in a sheltered location in your garden that offers protection from both wind and direct sunlight. Keep the soil in the pots moist, but do not water so often that the soil becomes drippy wet, which can rot the seeds. Germination of smoke tree seeds can be lengthy, taking one year or longer.