Growing berries from seed

Over the course of this year I’ve been collecting various fruits to grow for my nursery come next year, thimbleberry, salmonberry, black currant, red currant, red flowering currant, Saskatoon berry/serviceberry, riverbank grapes, crowberry, Oregon grape, red mulberry, red huckleberry, salal, blue elderberry. All of these fruits have been put into plastic bread bags with moist potting soil, with generous amounts of holes poked into it to allow oxygen and gas exchange to happen and left outside.

My big question is, how should I go about growing all these things in mass? Would it be better to buy plastic pots, and prick out each individual seedling and transplant or grow them in a nursery bed spread out randomly and mulched with some hay and or sawdust?

I’m curious to know if anyone here has grown these things, how was your first year in terms of growth and health of the plants when grown in a nursery bed? I don’t want to rely so heavily on plastic pots for my nursery, as they increase cost of product and are obviously not that great for the environment; I suppose I could grow them out in plastic pots and whenever someone wants to buy the plant, I’ll take the plant out of the pot, rootball/dirt and wrap it in newspaper I’m only selling locally for the moment.


Nursery beds … or many seeds in a large pot…is my suggestion.

I’ve tried seedlings in their own little cells…from 18, to 36 in a flat…but so many often don’t germinate.
Leaving a lot of empty holes.

You can wait until you see a seed swelling/sprouting to plant it, but that requires plenty of time and patience.

Good luck.


Thanks Blue, seems like I have to try all of the methods, see which one works the best for my situation - thanks for sharing your experiences :+1:

Im sure that you have taken scarification, warm stratification and cold stratification into account on the various berry seeds. One missed step could have you wasting a whole year on trial and error…or have you second guessing your seed source.

I started off in the small cells for my brambles… but if i were to do it again in mass i would use 1020 trays and up pot from there. I didnt think i would like doing it with 1020 trays until i saw my local greenhouse growing their heirloom tomatoes that way. They grew hundreds per tray then just flopped the tray out on a bench and up potted the seedlings…easy peasy.


a much easier way for many that you mentioned is sticking a cutting in the ground where you want it just before the ground freezes. it will root over winter and take right off come spring. some will fruit in the 2nd year. thats how ive spread all mine.


Many Rubus type seeds to my knowledge and research need to be scarified from sulphuric acid or naturally stomach acid from a bird to enable the chances of them germinating next year, my hope is that the frosts can help scarify them. I’ve done away doing cold stratification in the fridge as soon as I get seed, most of the plants that I’ve taken the fruit from, the fruit was ripe and the seed was hard when squished out with my finger.

I have two 128 trays, I might need to buy some more :sweat_smile: One thing to note is TreeTime over in Alberta I received plugs from them that were about 4-5 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide; those folks over there grow for wholesale so maybe one day I’ll look around to buy a couple of those tall trays. We’ll just have to see the demand of these plants that I’m growing and adjust accordingly :man_shrugging: thanks for sharing your experiences!

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I will eventually attempt to do this, right now I’m in the process of growing parent stock, Jostaberry, triple crown blackberry, boysenberry, red currants, Joan J raspberry, couple Elderberry cultivars. This year I’ll see if I can root some Joan J raspberry cuttings from first years wood, as well as Triple Crown. There’s risks with everything and most of those plants are in there 2nd year of production, so I’ll see if I can root them in controlled conditions inside a cold greenhouse with bottom heat.

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I’m not sure your method is successful in places that can hit 80 in January sometimes.

I’ve bought a lot of ‘plugs’ about 2 inches by 3 1/2 inches…that’s from memory, not an actual yardstick…those are generous sized trays containing 21 cells.
From that sized plug you can go to a one gallon pot if you like.

yes. some of them might start leafing out instead of rooting if its not cool enough. in that case i would stick it into the ground until only 1 bud is showing and pile a ft. of mulch over it to keep it cool then unbury just as everything is starting to grow. i can pretty much guarantee elder, currants, gooseberries raspberries and blackberries will definitely root.

Im no expert by any means but there are likely more berries than Rubus that are double dormant.

I use dollar store Hydrogen Peroxide to scarify my seeds… also some folks growing watermelons etc use it. Im no scientist or chemist…i just read that the USDA had pretty high rates of germination and said it was safer to use Peroxide in many cases. Some folks on forums use bleach and a couple of guys on here use battery acid. I only use peroxide. Its just easier and simpler and it works.

Some folks use sandpaper or put each seed under a lens and scrape it…lots of ways to scarify.

Im not sure frost scarifies… maybe it does.

Anyways… every berry seed or fruiting seed that i want to germinate that could possibly have been eaten by a bird i scarify for 4hrs in peroxide (about the same time as in the stomach). I wash them off by running them under a sink in a kitchen sink screen from the dollar store. I smack the screen onto a flattened out coffee filter then i bag it up and let it warm stratify for about 2 weeks to a month. I then moisten the coffee filter a little and seal it back in the baggie and put it in the cheese drawer of the fridge and in 3 months they are ready to germinate…some may already be sprouting. Most fruiting seeds prefer to germinate in the dark (cheese drawer)… but most humans want to put grow lights on them or set them out in the sun ASAP… Its totally fine to do it either way i guess…but they prefer the dark… and like to set a tap root feeler first before sending up vegetative growth.

I use peroxide on my tomato seeds and a couple of guys on here have followed my thought process and used it on their watermelon seeds… I think its handy if you want something to germinate faster…as it softens the protective seed coat.

I am still in the unknown about letting fruit seeds dry out… i think in nature that they never really have a chance to dry out…and the ones that do are likely to fail. During my warm stratification the coffee filter stays moist… and i think after a bird poops the seed out it stays moist in the fecal material and the dew and humidity…and forest floor.

Most humans like to dry all seeds for some reason… and the ones you buy online are dried. I just dont think that is a wise move for high germination when it comes to berries… but i could be wrong,

Try it your way… try it my way… or do half and half.

I guess the easiest way to explain it is to think of an Elderberry or Mulberry. Some plants may have 1000 berries or maybe 10000. If every one of those berries fell on the ground and made plants… they would take over the planet in a small amount of time. If even all of the ones that the birds ate germinated either one would be invasive like no other. The fact is that only a small percentage get scarified then warm stratified then cold stratified… in the perfect conditions.

So to me it makes sense in order to have the highest rate of germination that every step has to be near perfect to the seeds design.

I could be wrong.


If you do let some fruit seeds dry out they do go into double dormancy, I read in the book, The Reference Manual of Woody Propagation that Serviceberry, Amelanchier “Should not be allowed to dry out and should be stored in a sealed container at 41 F, 3 months cold stratification is necessary. If dried berries (entire fruit) are used the fruits may need a warm period (as much as one year) prior to cold stratification). The seed coat can become quite leathery and impervious.” They do note that a quick treatment of 15 - 30 minutes of Sulphuric acid was beneficial for germination. Hopefully the natural PH of the potting soil I put it into, in combination with tap water PH and frosts will help, but you’ve gotten be a bit worried maybe I should buy a little container of hydrogen peroxide and dilute that in water and pour it into the bags and mix it all up :thinking: thanks again for the info :+1:


I don’t think it should be mixed in the potting mix and left there, usually you just soak the clean seeds in hydrogen peroxide and then rinse them off before placing in the stratification medium. I’ve done this a few times because it also helps remove some pathogens.