Download our germination instructions ~ Germination Instructions 2018 (for your personal use only)
Lucerne trees flower prolifically from mid-winter to early spring (July to September) in abundant, fragrant white flowers.   Bees and birds love these flowers — honey farmers — take note!  The flowers develop into seed pods, each containing about 6 – 8 seeds.  Once brown and dry, the pods split open and the seeds fall out.

P1120604To harvest lucerne tree seeds, we hand-prune the branches with their seed pods while they are still unopened and keep them in a store-room until the pods pop open.  We hand-pick our seeds from their pods and never use the more commercial means of vacuuming seeds off the ground.

  • We sell our excellent organic quality seeds in packs of 100’s or 1000’s.
  • Seeds are posted as registered mail and we email you the tracking number.
  • Seeds are posted in a sealed ziplock bag, undeclared, in an ordinary mail envelope.
  • The seed pack includes  Germination Instructions plus at least 10% extra seeds.
  • To order online – click to our Prices and Orders page.


Lucerne tree seeds are naturally very hard-shelled seeds and require a process called scarification to encourage germination.  We recommend you nick or cut the edge of each seed before soaking the seeds in hot tap water overnight to weaken the hard seed coat of the seed to encourage germination.

Only start the germination process when you are ready to plant your seeds into seed trays or potting bags.  Work with batches of + 100 seeds at a time.


  1. Nick the edge of each seed with a nail clipper or sharp blade. Only cut off the seed coat and do not cut into the seed itself. Do not cut the white germ edge.20180313_112208
  2. Soak nicked seeds in a bowl filled with hot tap water.

    Trial comparison – swollen nicked seeds compared to the hard, small uncut seeds both soaked in hot tap water overnight
  3. Plant out the swollen seeds the next day.
  4. Prepare seed trays or potting bags filled with coarse river sand with holes for drainage.Do NOT use potting soil.
  5. Use a stick & make rows roughly 5mm (0.5cm) deep and place the seeds in these rows & cover lightly with sand.
  6. Water lightly regularly & do not to let the soil dry out.
  7. The seeds usually germinate within 15 days.P1120686
  8. Wait at least 40 days for maximum germination before potting out seedlings into individual 1-litre potting bags.

Keep watering the remaining germination trays even if the seeds did not germinate for several weeks as the slower seeds may still germinate!

You can germinate your soaked seeds in any of these ~

  • seed trays or
  • 2-litre ice cream tub pierced with holes for drainage pierced at the bottom or
  • plastic crates which have depth for the roots to develop or
  • raised 30cm-tall mound seedbed of coarse river sand

How to transplant the young seedling into individual potting bags ~

  1. First fill individual 1-litre potting bags filled with well-drained, sand-soil mixture.  We use the taller, narrower bags so that the roots have more room to develop.
  2. Dig deep under the seedling roots to loosen the soil and gently lift seedling out of the potting soil. Do not pull the seedlings up from the tray as this will damage the roots.  Notice the extremely strong root growth on these seedlings!12 b
  3. Use a dibber or any pointed stick to make a deep hole in the soil in the potting bag.  Wiggle the dibber around to make the hole in the soil wide enough.dibber
  4. Gently lift each seedling out of the germination sand and place the roots in the hole in the potting bag, and gently press the sand firmly around the seedling.P1150179
  5. Water immediately and then water regularly but lightly.  Be careful not to over-water!  These trees do not like to stand in wet soil.  Micro sprayers are excellent as they give a fine mist and will gently water your little saplings.
  6. Only plant small trees out into the land when they have sturdy pencil-thick stems and are about 40cm-50cm high.P1150194
  7. Approach your planting as if you are planting out at fruit orchard. 
  8. Pop over our Planting page for all our step-by-step instructions, photos and calculations.

The Life is in the Seed!

Copyright © 2012 by Myles & Nadene Esterhuizen

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher permitted by copyright law.



11 thoughts on “Seeds

  1. My sade ontkiem en kom op , maar baie van hulle kry nie die dop van die saad gebreek sodat die blare vry kan uitkom nie – dit lyk of die dop te hard is en die blare is dan vasgevang daarin. Wat doen ek verkeerd? Die sade is in riviersand geplant op omtrent 5mm diepte en word gereeld benat – ek probeer die top lagie klam hou in my kweekhuis met fyn besproeiing.


    • @Francois, although I have heard of this problem on other lucerne tree websites, we have not experienced this problem with our seeds. We germinate 1000’s of seeds weekly during our growing season and have not found seedlings becoming trapped. Those seedlings that have the seed shell on them seem to push through and the shell falls off.


  2. I Had simular problems with my seed. I sterted to remove the shell and it just continue growing, it seems to be seed that did not swell enough in the water prior to planting


  3. Ek wil graag die volgende weet:
    1. wat is die botaniese naam van die Lucernetree
    2. in watter klimaatstreke in ons land groei hierdie bome goed.
    3. waar in die Wes-Kaap is julle?


    • @Ansophie,
      1. Cytisus proliferus (Tagasaste)
      2. Die boom doen heel beste langs die kus, in sanderige gronde en in ‘n matige klimaat, alhoewel hy sal n uiterste weer omstangigede oorleef.
      3. Klein Karoo, in die Uniondale distrik, tussen Oudtshoorn en George.


    • @Ray, We have not used inoculent for any of our seeds and they have germinated very successfully. Should you wish to add an inoculent (Groundnut & Cowpea Group Inoculant. Contains Bradyrhyzobium sp. (Vigna) bacteria which is a bacterial legume inoculant for effective nitrogen fixation on legumes.), this should be mixed with the seeds as per the packet instructions, usually after soaking the seeds as in our germination instructions.


    • @Pierre, yes, these trees should do well so long as they are planted in spring, watered regularly during dry seasons and protected from severe frost while still young saplings.


  4. We’res out to uppot the seedlings and are wondering given the time of year if we should transplant into the ground in a few months (midsummer) or wait until next year. We’re in inland Northern California, 100+ degree summers, irrigated orchard and pastures where they’ll be planted, first frost in November.


    • @mattrosestark, we recommend that your hold your seeds until well into spring when the soil temperatures are consistently warm enough to promote germination.


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