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How to Grow a Fringe Tree From Seed

The fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is also known as old man's beard, greybeard tree and grancy gray beard. Fringe trees are revered for their beautiful pure white, wispy, fragrant flowers that bloom in early spring. The fringe tree is an indigenous tree to North America and is hardy in the USDA zones 6 to 10. Growing fringe trees from seed requires careful preparation.

Preparing Fringe Tree Seeds

Collect the seed pods from a fringe tree between July through September. You will know the pods are ready for extracting seeds when they have turned purple.

Cut or or slice open the fruit and separate the fringe tree seeds from the pulp.

Put the fringe tree seeds into colander. Pour water over the seeds and use a small brush to clean off all the pulp from each fringe tree seed. Spread the fringe tree seeds out onto paper towels to air dry for one day.

Dampen down about one to two cups of sphagnum peat moss. Place the sphagnum peat moss into a zipper-top plastic bag. Set the fringe tree seeds into the contents of the plastic bag and zip the bag closed.

Place the bag for a three-month storage in a warm location. The temperatures needs to be between 65 and 70 degrees F. Check in the bag every two to three days to make sure the contents remain moist. Spritz with water as needed.

Transfer the bag to your refrigerator for a three-month cold storage. The temperature must remain between 40 and 45 degrees F. Plant the fringe tree seeds after the three months in cold storage has passed.

Planting Fringe Tree Seeds

Pour seed-raising mix into individual 4-inch pots until the mix is within 1/2 inch from the top of the rim.

Poke a hole in the center of each 4-inch pot that is 1/2 inch deep. Drop a fringe tree seed into the hole and cover with approximately 1/2 inch of the seed-raising mix.

Transfer the tray of 4-inch pots to a location in your home that is both brightly lit and warm. If possible, provide eight to 10 hours of indirect light a day. A good temperature range is 65 to 70 degrees F.

Check the 4-inch pots daily. Mist the soil in the 4-inch pots as needed to keep the soil on the moist side. Germination of fringe tree seeds varies, depending on conditions, but can begin within 10 to 14 days, or take as long as three to four weeks.

Transplant the fringe tree saplings once they are established, about 3 to 4 inches tall. Plant the fringe tree saplings directly into your garden, or into tubs or barrels.


Fringe trees grow best when given some afternoon shade, and prefer moist, acid soil, according to the University of Florida.

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