How to Plant a Red Cedar Tree


The red cedar is well known for bearing weather-proof wood used in siding, deck materials and other outside applications. "Red cedars, which are really junipers (Juniperus virginiana), are evergreen trees with prickly needles that are wax-coated and well-adapted for retaining moisture in dry conditions," says Bill Hilton Jr., naturalist at the Hilton Pond Center in South Carolina. Although most propagation is done with cuttings, the seeds can be sown after going through a series of treatments.

Step 1

Collect the blue berries from the red cedar tree in the fall, when they start falling. They tend to grow in the Eastern United States from Maine to Florida and west to the Great Plains. In areas where the soil is poor, their growth will be stunted, but they will still survive. Because the seeds have only a 50 percent germination rate at best, collect twice as many as you want to grow.

Step 2

Crush the berries to separate the seeds from the pulp. You can do this by crushing them against the bottom of a bowl with a potato masher or something similar. Place them in a container of water with a couple of drops of dish detergent. The seeds should separate from the pulp.

Step 3

Place the seeds on a paper towel and fold it several times. Alternatively you can use some sphagnum moss. Dampen the paper towel or moss, and put the towel or moss in a plastic bag. Place it in the refrigerator, where the seeds can chill for six weeks.

Step 4

Plant the seeds in regular potting soil about a half inch deep in a plant pot or any suitable container with drainage holes.

Step 5

Water the planted seeds until the soil is moist, and set the pot in a moderately warm place (50-60 degrees). This is the spring temperature in areas where red cedars grow well naturally, so you can just set the planted seeds outside in a sunny spot.

Step 6

Keep the soil consistently moist until you see sprouts emerging. Once the trees start growing, water them only when the soil dries out. Transplant them to a permanent spot when they get to be about 12 inches high.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Container of warm water
  • Potato masher
  • Paper towel
  • Plastic bag
  • Plant pot
  • Potting soil


  • Hilton Pond: This Week at Hilton Pond
  • USDA: Eastern Red Cedar
Keywords: red cedar seeds, plant red cedar, cedar tree seeds

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.