The Ohio Buckeye, or Aesculus glabra, is the State Tree of Ohio, and, of course, the mascot of The Ohio State University. Getting Started
Your first choice must be to decide on a source. If you would like a healthy young Buckeye tree to stand proud in your yard right away, you should most likely seek a grower or nursery who will have Buckeye trees in stock, or ones that can be ordered. However, if you enjoy starting and nurturing a plant from square one, starting a Buckeye tree from seed may be right for you. Finding a good seed on campus will allow you to bring that special feeling of Ohio State right to your yard.
Finding a Live Tree Source
Your first trip should be to your local garden center. If they don't carry the species, they can most likely order one for you. However, if you're one for deals, you may attempt to locate a source yourself to attempt to avoid paying retail prices. In the central Ohio area, Acorn Farms is a nursery that grows the Ohio Buckeye. For other producers in Ohio, a Nursery Stock Survey from the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association will locate all producers of Aesculus glabra in the state.
Starting a Tree from Seed
To start your very own Buckeye tree from a seed, some patience and loving care are required. Buckeye seeds have usually ripened by September and are falling from the trees till early October. Collect your seeds from the ground soon after they fall and remove them from the husk. Take extra care not to let them dry out. Do not pull seed pods from the tree before the Buckeyes have ripened.
The seed should be planted in the fall at about a three inch depth in loose, well worked soil. Plant more buckeyes than you will need since only about fifty percent of them will germinate. Place two to three inches of mulch over the top of the buckeyes (straw or well rotted sawdust works nicely). The mulch will help hold the soil in place over the winter and should be removed in early spring after the ground thaws.
Keep the soil moist but not wet until after the seed has germinated. Then apply water as needed to maintain about one inch per week. Lightly fertilize with a balanced fertilizer once per month. Water and fertilizer should be stopped by mid-August to allow the seedling sufficient time to harden off before winter.
If you have the means to do so, light shade is recommended. Shade cloth or snow fence placed above the seedling during the hot summer months will help in preventing leaf scorch and reduce heat stress on the seedlings. Commercially available “tree shelters” are very good for these purposes, also.
Squirrels have a tendency to dig up seeds. If you are planting seeds in an area that has squirrels, it is recommended that a screen mesh be laid over the planted seeds before covering them with mulch. Remove the screen in the spring when you remove the mulch.
You should have buckeyes large enough to transplant in one to two years.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Collect seed after it falls from the tree
- DO NOT LET THE SEED DRY OUT
- Plant the seed about three inches deep
- Mulch over winter
- Water, but do not over-water
- Lightly shade if possible
-Taken from How to Grow Buckeye Trees from Seed
Ohio Buckeye prefers moist, well-drained soils of variable pH that are rich and deep, in partially sunny to partially shaded conditions. It adapts to average soils that are occasionally dry, but moderate to heavy leaf scorch will develop by mid summer, especially when sited in full sun. Ohio Buckeye prefers shady conditions in its youth, but grows in full sun to full shade from youth through maturity, and is found in zones 4 to 7.
Additional Buckeye Tree Resources