How to Plant Black Walnut & Chestnut Trees From Seeds


Black walnuts and chestnuts are beautiful hardwood trees that serve as timber and as nut trees. Both of the nuts go through a similar process of planting and sprouting, so you can work with both of them at the same time and in the same way. Of course, growing a nut tree from seed will take longer than buying an established 3-year-old seedling, but you can start nuts for free if you collect them yourself.

Step 1

Remove the hull from the black walnuts and the chestnuts. The black walnut hull is messy, so wear gloves so you don't stain your hands. The chestnut hull is covered in spikes, so wear gloves to protect your hands from being punctured. Toss the hulled nuts into a bucket of water and discard any that float.

Step 2

Fill a plastic bag with dampened peat moss and bury the nuts within it. Both types need to go through a process of stratification or cold treatment to break the dormancy of the nut. Close the bag and mark the date on it with a permanent marker. Set the bag in the back of your refrigerator and let it hang out back there for 120 days or four months.

Step 3

Take the bag out of the refrigerator in the spring after the allotted time. Some of the seeds may have already started to sprout, so handle them carefully so you don't break off the growth.

Step 4

Fill your plant pots or milk cartons with potting soil. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. Poke a 3-inch deep hole in the middle of the pots. Make it about 2 inches wide so there is plenty of room for your nut.

Step 5

Set the nuts into the holes and gently replace the dirt over the top of them. Water the pots until the moisture drains from the bottom. Place them on a tray in a sunny window. You should expect to see sprouts on seven to 10 days.

Step 6

Set the seedlings outside once they are about 6 inches tall. Direct sun might scorch the leaves, so place them in a protected place where they can get indirect light and won't be bothered by squirrels.

Step 7

Plant the black walnut and chestnut seedlings whenever you are ready at this stage. Keep the chestnut seedlings together for pollination. Both will need a lot of space--at least 15 to 20 feet from other trees and the black walnut should not be planted near vegetable gardens. Their leaves contain compounds that inhibit the growth of certain vegetables.

Things You'll Need

  • Black walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Plastic bag
  • Peat moss
  • Plant pots
  • Potting soil


  • University of Geulph: Care and Maintenance of American Chestnut
  • Kansas State University: Propagating Eastern Black Walnut
  • Penn State University: Planting and Growing American Chestnuts
Keywords: black walnut seedlings, growing chesnut seeds, Planting nut trees

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.