Does anyone have any methods they have used successfully in germinating the seeds from the russian olive tree? Hard freezes have just begun to occur here and I have collected some "olives" I would like to cultivate indoors over the winter to plant in the spring. I have read some about scarification and then stratification -in the fridge for three months. If that's the way to do it I will but I would like to begin now if possible. Either way I would appreciate any info on growing the russian olive from seed, thanks in advance!
I haven't tried to grow russian olive (oleaster, Elaeagnus angustifolia) from seed, but I have successfully grown it from cuttings.
Propagating by cuttings was dead easy, and almost 100% success rate. In early spring before the leaves start to come out on the russian olives, Cut some branches that are anywhere from one to 4 inches in diameter. I like to "crown lift" the russian olives here because otherwise they get too bushy at the bottom and block the walking paths and canals, so the cuttings are a by-product of normal spring pruning. Cut off the tops and side twigs, to make sticks about 3 to 5 feet long, with no branches or maybe a single fork. Keep track of which end is up. Stand them in a bucket of water if you haven't already prepared the holes to plant them in. Dig holes 1.5 to 2 feet deep (because in our climate the top foot of soil can dry out completely, so deeper is better, and also reduces wiggling due to wind or impact). Do not improve the soil in the holes. Stick the cuttings in the holes, and put a cutting in each. Pack the removed soil back into the hole, packing it tightly by pounding with a stick and stomping with your feet so the cutting is tightly in there. Water it the same day, and frequently for the first half of the summer, and then when the plants have leafed out and seem strongly rooted, cut back on watering. This is the same method as for willows and poplars.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
I have germinated various elaeagnus seeds after a dry, cold stratification (kept in a plastic bag in a tin in my unheated garage over the winter). Super underwhelming germination, with only a few in the spring, most germed later in the summer and barely made it past cotyledon stage this year. This winter I am trying a moist cold stratification of some elaeagnus umbellata, and I am hoping for a much better germ rate.
Russian Olive is one of those seeds that was designed to go through the gut of a goat.
What that tells us is that the seed jacket is very, very hard, it also tells us that there is a specific temperature that the seed needs to have experienced for germination to occur, and it tells us that we could soak it in a mild hydrochloric acid solution to etch the seed jacket to allow it to open.
For at home germination with no goats available, you could soak the seeds in vinegar (acetic acid) for a day or two in a warm spot prior to planting for germination.