by Connie Oswald Stofko
If you’d like to help perpetuate the native American chestnut tree, check out the tree seedling sales in Western New York. Three counties are offering the native specimens.
See details on the tree seedling sales below, and get tips on how to plant your tree seedling to maximize its chances for success.
The American chestnut (Castanea dentata), a native tree, was abundant in our area until the turn of the last century when a disease was introduced that killed most of the trees.
The seedlings for sale come from a stand of American chestnut trees in Michigan that weren’t damaged by the disease.
These trees aren’t fully resistant to chestnut blight. A Michigan group called the American Chestnut Council is propagating the trees. The idea is to keep the species going until a control for chestnut blight can be developed. (See how this effort began.)
Other groups are working to re-establish the American chestnut by creating cultivars that are resistant to chestnut blight.
Although American chestnut trees used to grow in cities, these seedlings aren’t well suited to the typical urban or suburban yard now because the American chestnut needs a lot of space. But if you have some acreage, consider planting a stand (group) of these seedlings.
American chestnuts prefer an open location with full sun. They grow quickly and can get 70 to 100 feet tall with trunks three or four feet in diameter. Their crowns are wide. The seedlings need to be spaced 8 to 10 feet apart.
Trees & shrubs for smaller yards
You can find smaller trees in the sale by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and by counties.
Each sale has different offerings. In addition to tree seedlings, some counties offer shrubs, wildflower seeds, ferns, bluebird and bat boxes, and supplies for your plants.
See details on the DEC sale here.
See sales in these counties:
Free seedlings for youth education
Schools and youth education organizations across New York State may apply to receive up to 50 free tree or shrub seedlings to plant with students.
The deadline to apply for the School Seedling Program is Wednesday, March 31.
Tips for planting tree seedlings
Jay Choczynski, CommuniTree Steward Volunteer in Western New York, has created a series of videos on caring for trees.
In his Seedling Success video, he describes how to plant tree seedlings with a high survival rate, whether you’re planting one in your own landscape or helping to reforest a large area. His method takes much longer than the standard dibble planting method, but it’s worth it, he said, because it saves the seedlings from just becoming deer food.
Choczynski lays out how to prepare while you’re waiting for your seedlings to arrive, discusses the pros and cons of different materials and explains each step.
See all his videos on his Wee Care Tree Care channel.