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!


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.

Watch out for critters!

Spring time — and it’s time to germinate your lucerne tree seeds!

Over the many years that we have germinated our lucerne tree seeds, we have come across evidence that birds, snails, slugs, hares and crickets have nibbled the delicious sprouting seeds’ leaves, leaving only a little stem sticking up out of the ground. Often this spells disaster for that little plant! Even pets can cause damage to vulnerable seed beds by having access.

Management is key!

Planting trees

Some practical advice if you are germinating seeds in a seed bed:

  • Germinate your seeds in a protected area, fenced off.
  • Cover the seed bed with shade cloth to keep out birds and hares.
  • Sprinkle snail bait around the seed bed every week. Remember to refresh your snail bait after rains and weekly irrigation.

If you germinate in seed trays, try the following:

  • Place your seed trays off the ground, such as on a plank resting on a few bricks or on a table, so that snails can’t get to them.
  • Drape shade cloth over the seed trays so that birds don’t nibble the sprouting leaves.
  • Create a shade cloth nursery.

Please follow our germination instructions as exactly as described. It is our tried and tested and re-tested method that provides the best germination results. You can download our instructions here – Germination Instructions. Place your order for a fresh batch of lucerne tree seeds in packs of 100s or 1000s here – Orders.

Happy farming!

Video – Planting bare-rooted lucerne trees

YouTube video planting bare-rooted treesWe have just uploaded our latest YouTube video showing you exactly how to plant out bare-rooted lucerne trees. Please pop over to YouTube to watch.

We courier young bare-rooted lucerne trees with overnight express service to main centres.  Bare-rooted trees can survive so long as the roots are not dried out. These bare-rooted trees’ roots are covered with some moist soil and then wrapped in wet paper towels, paper and plastic to keep the exposed roots covered and moist.  It is vital that you immediately plant out your newly collected trees so clients will need to have their holes prepared before the delivery is sent.

Recently a reader wrote and asked us for very specific planting instructions.  She said she needed  “a “planting guide for ‘Dummies‘”!

Well, our website is a Dummies guide to all things related to Lucerne trees!  We cover every aspect of lucerne tree information, their seeds, germination, transplanting,  potting out, protecting, pruning, irrigation, chipping and feeding methods.  We generously share all our tried and tested methods and expertise!  Browse our website using the tabs under the header to find all this information.

Hope that our video will help you in your lucerne tree farming!

Some sensible truths

Drippers 3-20140809_171434We would like to share some honest truths here because the end-user is always looking for a life-line or miracle, especially in droughts and when starting new farming ventures and the tagasaste just can’t be that.  The lucerne tree definitely has its place in agriculture and it is just here where we need to be realistic and not idealistic.
Tagasaste cannot produce as much forage as alfalfa or erogrostas grasses, but its advantages are that it has green forage available year round. It is best established together with grasses and used as part of the grazing management and not seen as the grazing.  Everything in nature has its limits and it is during these periods that the farmer will need the other sources of feed to complete the feeding management programmes.
Farming with lucerne trees can be done either extensively or intensively. Their success mostly depends on the availability of irrigable water and the farmer’s management capabilities.
We have found that the most viable practice for ourselves is setting up dedicated camps and managing these in various ways.
  • Seasonal pruning and chipping of lucerne tree branches and leaves does requires labour, but these methods quadruples the amount of feeding material a tree can produce and encourages a feedlot environment where the farmer can collect a concentration of valuable dung.
  • Alternately the animals can graze directly off the trees and then be removed so that the trees can fully recover.
Everything needs water to produce copious amounts of feed.  I do not encourage establishing trees without irrigation. The success rate is very poor, but once established, these trees can withstand incredibly harsh, dry conditions. but then also they do not produce maximum feed, but they yield smaller little leaves as does alfalfa when it is taking strain.
Spring always is the best time to germinate seed and a nursery is possibly the best way to supply a demand. Most folk manage to germinate their seeds, but the success rate among farmers growing them into healthy trees and then into a sustainable feeding programme is a bit too few and far between for tagasaste to become the next green revolution for agriculture.
Our experience and evidence points to farming with tagasaste as the sole food resource in large-scale, commercial farming economies to be unrealistic and largely unsuccessful.  It is most valuable for self-sufficiency homesteaders or for farmers who require additional good protein, green feed during calving or lambing.  It can be used as a supplementary feed, but the management of trees is not always justifiable when normal grazing grasses are available.  We therefore recommend farmers and homesteaders plant the lucerne tree on more marginal grounds, reserving best soils to establish their permanent and seasonal grass grazing camps.
Bearing these truths in mind, we offer this realistic advice with the hope that farmers continue to introduce and grow  lucerne trees in their farming practices and we are confident that they will be rewarded by the amazing amounts of exceptional food that they yield.

Dry Feed From Prunings

Nothing is wasted on these trees

Every branch pruned in the field to maintain the optimum tree height at 1.5m is carried into a storeroom to dry. 15f

Even the small cuttings pruned from our trees in potting bags is collected for dry feed.

(We cut our small trees still in their bags to stimulate side branch growth to form a bushy tree, rather than a long, lanky tree.)

Within 3 days the branches have dried out and with a couple good knocks against the wall, every leaf falls down, leaving neat bare branches.  (A nice rainy-day job!)


We mix our leaves with some crushed mealies, some molasses and a scoop of salt and store our finishing mix in bags. And every stock farmer knows the great benefit of a good finishing mix for their lambs!


So, keep your trees short, promote side growth and collect food for storage – a win! win! win! with lucerne trees!

Happy Farming!

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!

New Names? Same Tree!

There are no new varieties of Tagasaste or Tree Lucerne that require different growing conditions or which will give better yields because of the different types.

The same tree lucerne under different circumstances, ie: irrigation, climate, soil, pruning or grazing will appear differently, but the nutritional properties will remain the same.

Clients often ask whether we have the “Cattle” type or the “Sheep” type tree. The “Sheep” type refers to a hybrid called “Weeping Tagasaste” which is a smaller, shrub-like version of the Tree Lucerne.  It does not carry the same yields, and we do not stock this type of tree or seed.

Furthermore, clients recently enquire about the latest names ~  “Cattle Candy“, “Kalahari Green“, and “Kilimanjaro” tree lucerne.  These are newly created trade names used by an aggressive marketing campaign, but are all the same thing ~ Tree Lucerne!

Don’t allow yourself to be mis-informed or persuaded to think that you’ll get better yields or better adaptability by planting any of these new trade names.

They are simply the same tree!