Popular trees with bright and beautiful autumn leave such as Maple, Elm, and Ginkgo are very rare in the tropics. They are native to the four seasons region which is quite cold, of course, the tropics are not a suitable region for it.
But why are there sellers of subtropical plants in the tropics?
The answer is very simple, sellers of subtropical plants in the tropics generally import these plants directly from their country of origin. But not infrequently also plant sellers who do their own cultivation in their gardens which are usually located in highlands such as in the mountains.
In the highlands, temperatures can be close to those in the subtropics. The cultivators of subtropical plants in the tropics have a higher chance of growing when they plant them in the highlands, compared to the lowlands where the temperature is mostly warmer. Cultivators also use a method for cultivating subtropical plants called Dormancy or the process of freezing seeds before sowing.
What is Dormancy?
Dormancy is a state of cessation of growth experienced by living organisms in conditions that do not support normal growth. Dormancy can be mechanical and can be accomplished by natural or chemical means.
The treatment of dormancy on the seeds of subtropical plants is also often carried out by cultivators abroad (even though they are in subtropical areas) with the aim that the seeds they plant will grow as expected.
Information from various sources on the internet explains that to plant seeds for subtropical plants such as Maple, Elm, and Ginkgo, they are distinguished by the time the dormancy is carried out and how long the seeds are frozen.
So how do you plant maple seeds in the tropics? Here are the steps:
1. Pay Attention to Time and Weather
Cultivators of subtropical plants in the tropics are very concerned about the time (Month) and weather before they buy and do dormancy on the seeds they buy.
2. Buying and Selecting Seeds
After doing an estimate of the time and weather, the farmer will buy healthy seeds, freshly picked from the tree or freshly taken from under the tree.
Then do the selection on the seeds by immersion in water for 24 hours. The seeds that sink are healthy seeds and can germinate. While the seeds that float are seeds that cannot germinate or are damaged.
3. Doing Dormancy
When the seed selection stage is complete, the selected seeds will immediately go into dormancy. The way to do dormancy on subtropical plant seeds is to put them in a container and then store them in the refrigerator.
During dormancy, the temperature in the refrigerator must be consistent and in accordance with the climate in its natural habitat (temperature measurement is required). For example Japanese Maple, this plant requires a temperature of -10 °C to 0 °C.
Each plant species has a different native habitat, as well as the temperature. You can find out the temperature of each plant’s habitat by figuring out their Hardiness Zone
FYI: Apart from using manual dormancy, which takes time, subtropical plant cultivators in the tropics also sometimes use scarification.
What is Scarification?
Scarification is breaking seed dormancy (picking a little skin/seed shell with nail clippers) with the aim of accelerating germination.
4. Planting Seeds
The last is to plant seeds that have gone through the dormancy process. Planting these seeds must be considered because subtropical plants use a mixture of different growing media from tropical plant soils (depending on the species).
Cultivators often use Vermiculite for dormancy and Perlite and a mixture of Garden Soil and Compost to plant seeds. Place the seeds regularly on the tray, and place them in a bright and cool location.
If all the above steps are done correctly, just wait until the seeds germinate. Maple seeds usually germinate in 4-5 weeks.
And once they are old enough, they can be transplanted into a larger pot or into the soil in your yard.
That’s how to plant maple seeds in the tropics. If you want to try it, pay close attention to each step above.
Even though many people think that subtropical trees cannot grow in the tropics, there is still hope for growing and caring for them. Some tourist attractions in Indonesia which have a tropical climate already have a collection of subtropical plants that you can search on the internet or visit directly to see them. Here are the locations:
- Cibodas, West Java
Cibodas is the area where cherry blossom trees were planted for the first time in Indonesia, in 1953. The cool air is perfect for planting various types of subtropical trees. Currently, there are seven species of cherry blossoms in Cibodas Sakura Park.
Location: Cibodas Park Street, Sindangjaya, Cipanas Districts, Cianjur Regency, West Java.
Blooms in: January and February, July and August
Besides the cold air, Cibodas is also a highland where the air is still quite clean and cool. Many commercial plant sellers sell a variety of imported plants from subtropical areas such as Maple, Pine, Juniper, Phlox, and so on.
- Karanganyar, Central Java
In January 2018, the Governor of Central Java Ganjar Pranowo inaugurated the Mount Lawu Sakura Tourism Park located in Tlogodringo Hamlet, Gondosuli Cemoro Kandang Village, Karanganyar. In this place as many as 60 cherry blossom trees are planted in an area of 1.2 hectares.
- Karangasem, Bali
At the Eka Karya Botanical Gardens, Karangasem, Bali, a cherry blossom tree of the Yoko Zakura (Prunus campanulata ‘Yoko’) type is planted, which you can see while on vacation.
Blooms in: April and September
In addition to the locations above, there are many more tropical areas around the world that can be planted with subtropical crops. Of course, even though it belongs to the tropics, subtropical tree planting places in the tropics must be in high areas or mountainous tourist attractions with low temperatures that are quite cold.