Transplant little lucerne trees into potting bags

Transplant little trees into potting bags

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you transplant your little lucerne trees that we have couriered with several little trees in a potting bag filled with soil. Clients need to transplant each little tree into individual potting bags to grow out to 40cm tall before they will be ready to plant out in the land. You can view our YouTube video ~

  • Have your new potting bags filled with a sandy soil mix.  Do NOT use potting soil, compost, peat or any other medium that will remain wet and soggy.  Lucerne trees hate sitting with wet roots for prolonged periods of time.
  • Water your new bags of soil so that when you transplant your trees, their roots will go into wet soil.
  • Make holes in the soil of each newly filled potting bag with a dibber or stick – nice and deep and fairly wide.
  • Fill a small bucket or bowl with water which you will use when you take out the trees from our potting bag.  You do NOT want the roots to dry out.
  • Take our bag with trees and gently press around the base to loosen the soil from the bag. 
  • Take hold of the bottom of the potting bag and tilt the trees over on the other hand.
  • Gently slide the potting bag off the soil or take a Stanley knife and slice the bag open down the side.
  • Gently loosen the soil off the tree’s roots.
  • Place the trees’ roots into the bucket of water.
  • Now separate each little tree carefully, not pulling or damaging the roots.
  • Take each tree and ease its roots into the hole in the new potting bag soil and then press the soil around the roots so that there is no air space around the roots.
  • Give your newly transplanted trees a light watering.  
  • Your newly transplanted trees may go into “transplant shock” and may look sad and wilted for a day or two, but should recover within a week.
  • Keep them protected and lightly watered when needed.
  • Once they reach 40cm tall, they are ready to be planted out into the land. 
  • You can test if they need watering by checking the soil at the bottom of the potting bags or sticking your finger into the soil to see if it is dry.  Remember not to over-water your trees.

NB: Do not throw away the soil in which your seedlings have been growing!  There are many seeds in each bag that may still germinate.  Place this soil in an old ice cream box with a few drainage holes poked into the bottom and water this along with your trees. Transplant any new seedlings that may emerge into their own potting bags as soon as they develop their true leaves.

We have supplied you with at least 10% extra trees with each consignment. Order your trees and seeds today!

Spring saplings growing strong

Our spring lucerne tree seedlings in their bags are growing beautifully as the spring temperatures warm.

We currently have stocks of lucerne trees in bags that are between 15cm – 30 cm tall and they will be ready to plant out once they reach about 40cm tall in a month or so’s time. We also have stocks of trees in tube-packs for lighter courier costs.

You can see how tender and spindly these little saplings are. If you plant your trees when they are too small and young, they will be eaten as a quick little snack by any passing browser. Shelter your trees to grow to size and only plant them when they are taller and stronger. Protect your young trees from any animals for at least their first 18-months with good fencing and/or shade cloth. Please read all about how to plant your trees and what to put into the holes here – Planting Trees.

Also, you can nip the growth tips off these saplings to stimulate side-branching and prolific leaf development. Wait about 2 weeks after planting them out to “take” and settle, and then snip off the tips of each sapling. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they will flourish with new leaves and branches.

Order your trees now while stocks last. Unfortunately we may not export trees across international borders, but you can order seeds instead.

Happy Farming!


Do you want to order lucerne tree seeds or trees? Please take a few moments to browse through our website as we have very comprehensive information, detailed step-by-step instructions and photos to help inform you in your lucerne tree farming.

Please note ~

  • We post international seeds orders to those countries that are open to international shipping. International mail services and deliveries may take longer than normal due to Covid restrictions and regulations.
  • We only courier trees to clients living in South Africa due to international import and biosecurity regulations.

To order lucerne tree seeds or trees, please fill in the contact form on our Orders page and we will email you all the details.

When to harvest your seeds?

Lucerne trees flower throughout winter and by spring will form seed pods, first pale green and then turning brown. As they mature, seed pods dry and turn dark brown on the trees. Several clients have asked when these seed pods are ready to harvest. We normally harvest in mid-summer, in November and December here in South Africa.

To test when the seeds are ready to harvest, twist the dark brown pods to feel if they are dry and if they easily crack or pop open. If the pods are still green, the pods will not crack open. Also, the seeds will be small and flat and the seed germ on each seed will still be light green and the seeds will remain attached to the pod. Wait a little longer. It is best if the seeds dry and mature on the tree. In a few weeks, test again to see if the pods crack open when you twist them. Usually, when they are ready, you will hear the pods popping on the trees as they dry out.

To hand harvest, pick the dry pods off the trees and store them in a feed bag. Use containers such as feed bags, fabric bags, baskets or open buckets to prevent mould from developing. Keep your seed pods in a cool, dark place and allow them to dry completely.

Because we have so many trees to harvest, we prune the longer branches with all their brown pods and bring them and lay the branches on a tarp in a dry storeroom so that we can catch all the seeds as the pods pop and release their seeds.

When you want to remove the seeds from the pods, place them in the sun and most of the seed pods will pop open naturally. We also give the pods a few knocks which usually cracks them open. We normally do this while the seed pods are in feed bags or on a tarp. Then sift the seeds. We shake them through an open-weave shade cloth or winnow the seed pod mix in front of an industrial fan.

Always store your seeds sealed in bags or bottles and kept in a dry, cool, dark place. Dry, mature seeds will store perfectly for a year or more if stored properly. Your lucerne trees will provide huge seed harvests!

Just note — Some lucerne trees put everything into their seed production and we have found some perfectly healthy mature trees die after prolific seed production. It is important to prune flowering trees to prevent these losses. We select some trees for seed production and prune the rest to prevent an overproduction and tree losses.

You can order seeds and trees on our Orders page.

Tube-packs are for courier purposes only

Winter is a perfect time to start your lucerne tree germination process and we have received a lot of interest and new orders. Recently a new client asked,

“Should I first plant my lucerne tree seeds into tube-packs (after seeing images on our blog and as an option in our ordering form) before then potting my seedlings into potting bags?”

Here’s my response ~

We only use tube-packs to courier clients our little lucerne trees so as to provide light-weight packaging, to reduce volumetric weight and therefore lower courier costs. A tube-pack has very little space for root growth. 

We recommend clients germinate their own seeds in a seed bed or seed tray (in a warm or sheltered spot) and then transplant these little seedlings straight into 1-litre potting bags.  It is not recommended to plant your seedlings into small tube-packs first because you want them to grow to 30-40cm tall in their potting bags, so that they are strong enough to go out into your lands, and their roots need space to grow in the bag.  You can view our step-by-step germination and potting out seedling instructions here.

Just look at the length of the roots on this seedling — as much root growth as stem growth! Remember that a lucerne tree grows a deep tap root that can go up to 10m deep, so its natural desire is to go down deep!

Potting bags can be ordered online or purchased at your local nursery or agricultural supplier. When selecting your potting bag, choose tall bags rather than short wide bags so that those roots have space to grow in. Potting bags are cheap – only about R1 per bag.

When a client receives his little seedlings in tube-packs, he must then immediately transplant these seedlings into 1-litre potting bags. Remember that lucerne trees generally do not like to have their roots disturbed and so follow our step-by-step transplant instructions exactly and keep the soil around the roots intact when transplanting them. You can view these instructions here.

Although it is winter here in South Africa, and plant growth is slow, it is good to start now. Order your seeds and seedlings by filling in the contact form on our Orders page. Your seeds will have a head-start while kept sheltered, and by spring, when soil temperatures begin to warm, they will begin their real growth and should be tall enough and ready to plant out by summer. We do not have any trees in bags in stock at the moment. All our trees and seedlings are R15 per tree regardless of size or packaging.

Happy Farming!

New Seedlings Growing!


Spring has sprung and new life is budding and shooting out everywhere on our farm.


Our new lucerne tree seedlings, slowly hanging on through winter, have woken to the warmer weather and are shooting up at a remarkable rate!


For clients who have placed orders and paid their 50% deposit, we will soon carefully pot your trees into their individual potting bags and they should be ready to be delivered or collected at the end of October.


We have several clients requesting trees be sent across borders to international countries, but due to strict bio-security import laws, this is not permitted.  Clients should purchase seeds instead.

We have excellent lucerne tree seeds in stock.  Our seeds are packed in packs of 100‘s and 1000‘s.  Included in the seed pack are detailed germination instructions that we successfully use ourselves and more than 10% extra seeds.  We post the seeds all over the world, undeclared, with registered mail and then email the client the tracking number.

How to order seeds ~

Click over to the contact form on our Prices & Orders page and tell us how many seeds you wish to order and include your full names, full postal address and your contact number details.  We will email you an invoice with our banking and/or PayPal details.  Please check that your contact information is correct on this invoice as we will not refund seeds uncollected or returned from the post office. Once we receive your emailed payment confirmation with your invoice number as your payment referencewe will post your seeds and email you the tracking number.

To South Africans, please order your trees before stocks are sold out.

Some good reminders ~

  • Remember that you should hold your seedlings in a nursery until they are 40cm tall and have a woody, pencil-thick stem before planting them out.
  • Carefully manage your young trees as if you were farming a new fruit orchard, checking regularly for pests or critters that may snack on your trees while you are sleeping!
  • Provide regular water.  Drippers work very well and are a very economic water user. See irrigation methods here.
  • Once established, remember to nip the growth tips of your saplings to promote better side-branching.  You can simply use your finger nails and pinch off the top 3 leaves or, as in our closely packed nursery, use hedge-clippers and snip off their tops.  See photos of pruned trees here.

Wishing you very happy farming!

Drought & Heat ~ Lucerne Trees Bring Relief

The value of lucerne trees is that they keep your animals in good condition.

As the dry, hot summer burn the veld and grasses, and as grazing becomes more limited, our camped lucerne trees are a blessing and relief.

20160303_140753 Our Angus cattle spend the first few days eating the grasses and then move on to browse the lucerne trees. 20160303_140130Lucerne trees provide nitrogen-fixing in the soils which enhance the grasses growth, as well as providing shade and wind protection to keep soil moisture up after rains or irrigation.  20160303_140159While normal lucerne fields are our “food bank” where we cut, bale and store lucerne, the lucerne trees are an indispensable part of our grazing rotations.  20160303_140826It is never too late to start planting lucerne trees!



Benefits of pruning lucerne trees

2-20140809_161544 compare pruned unpruned
Pruned 16-month-old trees on the left compared to un-pruned trees on the right

Every time you prune your trees, you increase your trees carrying capacity.

Lucerne trees must not be grazed within their first 2 years, because the animals tear the branches and stunt the growth of these young trees.  The aim is to have a mature tree having a thick stem of about 280mm, but being no more than 1 meter in height. The result is thick 50-75mm branches carrying very dense foliage.  These branches are never grazed or damaged while the foliage is eaten off them.

Pruned 16-month-old trees
Pruned 16-month-old trees

Whenever you prune your trees, the roots prune themselves, fixing nitrogen in your soils.

Every pruning should give you up to 40kg of plant material off a 3-year-old tree.  In the case where you have established 2000 trees in a hectare, this will amount to 80 tonnes of silage!

Pruning is the most beneficial practice for the lucerne tree and it is an essential component of lucerne tree management.

Do NOT neglect to prune your trees!


10 month old Lucerne trees

These trees which were established in January are showing excellent growth at 10 months!


They have not yet been grazed, but have been pruned twice to maintain 1m height and encourage lateral growth.  Pruning encourages the tree to bush and prevents the tree from growing too tall and spindly for your livestock to utilize.

Happy Farming!

Roots – your most important growth factor!

Many new lucerne tree farmers plant their seeds into shallow seed trays, but if you look at the following photos, you will realize that the roots are more aggressive in their growth than the leaves.

12 b

In fact, those green leaves and shoots you see sprouting out of the soil is an indication of the depth of soil needed for the roots.

12 c

This lucerne tree has an incredible tap root and side root structure. These seeds need deep 30cm trays or crates filled with coarse river sand.

Prune the growth tips of your small trees to encourage side branching when your tree reaches about 15cm.  You’ll soon notice new buds develop all along the stem!

Remember that you do not add any fertilizer to your potting soil.

When you plant out your seedlings, never pull the tree up out of the soil. This strips and damages the roots, especially the fine root hairs. Most transplanted trees with this type of damage do not survive. Rather scoop deep under the little trees and lay the seedlings on their sides loosely, and gently separate each seedling. Using a nice deep stick or dibber, make a suitably wide deep hole in the potting bag soil and gently ease the roots straight down into the hole. Gently firm the soil around your seedling and water.

When you plant out your potted trees, try to preserve most the soil around the roots and make a suitable deep hole in the ground.  Fill the hole with water before placing your tree into the hole. Fill and gently firm the soil around the base.

Happy farming!