How to Start Chestnut Trees


Chestnuts are easily propagated from the seed, the same creamy seed that is so delicious roasted over a fire. So next time you head to your favorite tree to collect fresh chestnuts, set a few aside to germinate. Though you will not get a nuts-producing tree for 30 or 40 years, it is still a fun fall project the whole family can enjoy together.

Step 1

Collect the chestnut seeds as they fall from the tree in the fall, usually between mid-September and mid-October.

Step 2

Place the chestnut seed in a bucket of cool water and soak it for a full 24-hour period.

Step 3

Put the chestnut in a zip-lock bag filled with peat moss. Store the bag in a cool place for 10 to 12 weeks at a consistent temperature of 38 to 40 degrees F.

Step 4

Fill a 12-inch planting pot with potting soil. Make a hole in the center that is 1 to 2 inches deep and slightly larger then the chestnut.

Step 5

Lay the chestnut on its side in the hole and cover it with soil. Water the pot until the soil is thoroughly and evenly damp.

Step 6

Put a clear plastic bag over the pot and secure it with a string or rubber band. This will help keep the soil warm and damp.

Step 7

Put the pot in an area where you can keep the temperature consistently between 70 and 80 degrees F. A sunny windowsill or covered porch is best.

Step 8

Plant your chestnut tree outside in the spring after the dangers of frost have passed. Early to mid-May is usually the best time.

Step 9

Dig a hole that is slightly bigger then the pot that your chestnut seedling is in. Select a spot that gets partial shade throughout the day.

Step 10

Turn the potted seedling on its side and gently wiggle it free from the planting pot. Place the seedling into the hole so the base of the stem is level with the soil.

Step 11

Fill in the soil around the root ball and water the area. Your chestnut tree will need 1 inch of water per week.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Zip lock bag
  • Peat moss
  • 12-inch planting pot
  • Potting soil
  • Clear plastic bag
  • Shovel
  • Rain gauge (optional)
  • Tree cage (optional)


  • American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation: Growing American Chestnuts
  • American Chestnut Foundation: Growing American Chestnuts
Keywords: chestnut planting, chestnut cultivation, chestnut sapling

About this Author

Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.