How to Grow Catalpa Trees from Seed

Hemera Technologies/ Images

The Catalpa tree is also called the Indian Bean tree because the word Catalpa comes from the Cherokee Indian word meaning bean. The tree has large, lobe-shaped green leaves and produces white flowers in mid to late summer. The seeds of the tree are located in long, thin seed pods that resemble a bean.

The seeds of the Catalpa tree germinate quickly but should be protected during the first winter.

Pick the beanlike seed pods from an existing Catalpa tree in the fall months. Hold each pod over a piece of paper and split it open using your fingers. Scrape the seeds out of the pod using your fingers.

Pour the seeds into a plastic storage bag and place the bag into a refrigerator that maintains a temperature of 1.11 degrees Celsius. Keep the seeds in this location for three weeks.

Fill a seed tray with potting soil until it reaches 1/2 inch from the top of the tray.

Remove the seeds from the refrigerator. Poke holes in the soil that are 1/4 inch deep and insert one Catalpa seed into each hole. Cover the holes with soil.

Water the soil daily and keep it constantly moist until the Catalpa seeds germinate. Afterward, water the plants when the top of the soil feels dry.

Wait until the plants reach approximately 3 to 4 inches tall and dig them out of the seed tray gently using your fingers. Insert one Catalpa tree seedling into a 5- to 6-inch diameter plant pot filled with potting soil.

Water the Catalpa seeds as needed throughout the winter months and keep them in an indoor location or greenhouse until the threat of frost has passed in the spring.

Select an outdoor planting location that is in full sun. Catalpa seeds will grow in all types of soil but prefer slightly moist locations.

Dig a hole with a shovel that is large enough to accommodate the root of the seedling and insert the roots of the Catalpa into the hole. Fill in the hole with soil and water the soil until it is moist.