The key to success with conifer seeds is choosing mature, viable seeds and placing them in the proper environment to induce germination. Most conifer seeds benefit from a stratification process that substitutes the winter dormancy period required for germination.
Collect the ripe conifer cones just after they have fallen from the tree or cut off cones where the bottom petals have begun to open. Cones that have been lying on the ground may no longer contain seeds.
Extract the seed from the cone by lightly shaking the ripe cone upside down. Place the seeds in a container filled with water and discard seeds that sink to the bottom.
Stratify the seeds by soaking them in room temperature water for two days. Change the water after 24 hours. Remove the seeds from the water and place them in a plastic bag filled with moist sand. Tie the bag closed and set it in a refrigerator at 35 to 40 degrees F for 30 to 60 days.
Plant the seeds in seed-starting trays filled with a mixture of course sand and peat moss that had been moistened with water. Push the seeds into the soil to a depth of 1/4 inch and set 8 inches apart. The pointed end of the seed should be facing down.
Set the container in a warm, sunny location. Monitor the soil to keep it moist but not wet during the germination process. Once the seedlings sprout, reduce water applications to only when the soil is dry. Seedlings appear 20 to 30 days after planting.
Transplant the seedlings to individual growing containers once the roots reach 1 inch in length. Transplant the new plants outdoors once they reach the sapling stage of 6 inches or taller in height. This process may take up to two years, depending on the tree variety.