The Michelia champaca tree is one of the most coveted of tropical trees. The reason is its heady, heavenly scent, which is used to make one of the world's most sought-after colognes. Known also as the Joy perfume tree, yellow jade orchid tree and fragrant champaca, it is a woody, ornamental tree that grows to about 15 feet tall. Originally from India and Indonesia, this tropical tree doesn't just attract humans, but bees and butterflies as well to its sweetly scented blossoms. Growing Michelia champaca from seed can be accomplished from either fresh or properly stored seeds, though take note that germination tends to be sporadic.
Set Michelia seeds into a pan of warm water, about 21.1 to 23.9 degrees Celsius, to soak for no more than 24 hours. This softens the hard seed coat of the seeds and will aid in germination.
Slice or cut off a small section from each seed coat. Use a hobby knife, a scalpel or any other sharp cutting instrument. The section should be small, no more than 1/4 inch.
Pour out 1 cup of bleach into 10 gallons of water. Set the planting pots into the bleach and water solution to sterilise them for about an hour. Rinse each pot off under hot water and set aside to air dry.
Pour the seed raising medium onto an oven tray. Cover the tray with an ovenproof bag to prevent any odour during the sterilisation process.
Set your oven to 121 degrees Celsius. The mix should sit in the oven for about 30 minutes and reach a temperature of 82.2 degrees Celsius in order to properly sterilise the medium. You can use a candy or meat thermometer to check on the temperature. Allow the medium to cool before you continue.
Scoop the sterilised medium into peat pots, 4-inch pots or planting packs to about 3/4 inch from the top. Firm it down so that when transplanting time comes the unit will remain intact and not crumble apart. You can use the back of a spoon to do this, the base of a small drinking cup or a small chunk of wood. Avoid using your fingers, which can contaminate the medium.
Poke 1/2 inch deep holes in each planting pot, or cell. Make two holes per cell or pot, keep each hole about 3/4 inch apart.
Cover up each of the Michelia champaca seeds with a light layer of soil, no more than 1/2 inch. Mist the pots or cells thoroughly using a fine spray of water until the medium is moistened but not drenched.
Place the pots or cells in a location that will stay about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night and about 70 to 75 degrees during the day. Lay out either a sheet of glass over the pots or clear cling film to maintain even moisture and humidity. Watch for the seeds to begin germinating in about 10 days to two or three weeks, depending on condition. You can transplant the seedlings into larger containers once they are large enough to repot, about 2 to 3 inches tall.
Things you need
- Michelia champaca seeds
- Oven proof tray
- Oven proof bag
- Seed starting medium
- Planting pots
- Pencil or chopstick