Growing carob trees from seed – 18 month update

Last week, I put the carob trees, planted in the spring of last year, back into their cold frame for the winter.

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Carob trees at 18 months

Of the seven pips that germinated, all have survived (hooray!). Two are definitely thriving; two are doing ok; and two have suffered quite severe knock backs.

Of the two that have suffered the most, one was badly affected by tortrix moth caterpillars (the main and only noteworthy pest I’ve noticed with these trees). The other one was badly damaged by sun scorch – yes, even here in north Wales!

Through the summer, the little trees have been out against a south facing fence with a little bit of shade from various shrubs. Early on in the summer, we had some unseasonably hot and very sunny days. And on one of those days, the tree which had been growing the best was scorched – it was on the edge of the group and had the least shelter from the shrubs’ shade. That sun-blast caused all this year’s growth on that tree to die back.

But, I’m not giving up on it. These are tenacious little trees. Even the one that had been pulled up by the birds and looked to be a complete disaster is still trying to grow (it too has been badly bothered by the pesky tortrix moth caterpillars).

1410darmagedcarobnearly2yrs-007b
The “runt” of the carob family: it’s been pulled out by birds and attacked by caterpillars, but it’s still putting out new shoots.

Two things I have learnt, and they’re both a bit of a surprise: the trees like a lot of water (but also good drainage); and they prefer to be in shade, not full sun (which makes sense for a baby tree really). I’ve also noticed that they grow best when there are weeds in the pot. I can’t really figure that out, but it’s something quite common with potted plants. Consequently, when I repotted the sun damaged tree, I deliberately planted some weeds in with it to keep it company:)

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12 thoughts on “Growing carob trees from seed – 18 month update”

    1. They’re not hugely tall trees even when mature – maybe 25ft or so, but quite spreading. However, they grow very very slowly, so I doubt I’ll see them make that size! And yes, they could definitely stay out all winter as far as temperatures go here. But our combination of too wet and too mild through the winter makes me think they’d get root die back. I’m sure once they’re bigger with a more established root system they’ll be fine.

  1. Reblogged this on Suzanne's Mom's Blog and commented:
    I’m reposting this from the Hortographical blog. It’s about a little tree recovering from a setback thanks to someone who’s alert to its needs. I loved that Kay B figured out, for example, that the tree likes having a few other plants around — even weeds — to keep it company.

  2. I have a Carob seedling, It’s growing okay, the leaves look heathy, but the bottom inch of the stem is brown, wet and withered looking.
    I thought it was too wet, but I’m now thinking it might be part of the root ? How do I tell where the crown is?
    Thank you.
    Your plants look great, congrats!

    1. That’s a good question and I don’t really have a definitive answer. The bottoms of the stems do look quite withered naturally. When I’ve had to replant the damaged seedlings I have, there is very little difference between the above ground stem and the beginning of the underground system: mine haven’t started putting out side roots until an inch or two underground.
      The fact yours looks wet is a bit more of a puzzle. However, I think if the leaves are looking healthy, the plant is doing fine – at the first sign of upset, they seem to either fold their leaves, or begin to discolour. Fingers crossed for you:)

      1. Great, it sounds like it’s okay then. The wet might only be damp from the soil or weather?
        I will repot it soon and add some weeds. It makes sense that they like weeds, I find my potted plants dry out so quickly in the Australian heat, I think the weeds might act as a layer of protection from the heat for the plant’s roots. Though I guess this would apply for cold, frost, bugs, or animals digging too.
        Thank you

  3. Do you have any idea/info on how to guess the tree’s gender? I am 2 years behind you (mine are just germinating now) and with my luck they are all male…

    1. No, sorry, I don’t know of any way to tell before they begin flowering. I just googled and seemingly you can try staining a piece of their stem with iodine…but it’s destructive (having to chop a bit of the tiny seedling) and not definitive. Fingers crossed that yours (and mine!) aren’t all boys.

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