How to Plant a White Pine Seed

Overview

The white pine is a long-needled evergreen tree that can grow for over 200 years reaching heights of over 100 feet. According to G. W. Wendell, the Eastern White Pine is considered one of the most valuable trees in North America. Some propagation is successful by rooting cuttings, but by far the majority of new trees came from seed. Once you meet the requirements of the seed for scarification and stratification, germination is consistently successful.

Step 1

Collect closed cones from healthy white pine trees in September through October. If you find open cones, there is a good chance that the seeds are already gone as they slip out easily once the bracts are open. You can pick them directly off the tree by twisting them with one hand as you hold the branch with the other hand.

Step 2

Place the cones in a warm place such as in the direct sunlight, but not over 120 degrees F (if you are using artificial heat). The bracts will open. When they do open, place the cones in a paper bag, and close the top. Give it a good shaking to loosen the seeds. Open the bag and save the cones for decorations or fire starters. There should be plenty of seed in the bottom of the bag.

Step 3

Gather the seeds into a plastic bag that you have already filled with damp peat moss. Make sure they are well covered, and close the bag. Place them in the back and bottom of a refrigerator for the next four months. This will break the dormancy caused by scarification and stratification. Scarification softens the outer woody coat by being in the dampness for so long and the stratification works by the months of cold temperatures.

Step 4

Plant the treated seeds under a half-inch of potting soil in a regular plant pot with drainage hole, or a similar container. You can plant them directly outside, but you will have to protect them from deer and mice who favor the little seedlings when they emerge. Tamp the soil down over the seeds and then water until the water flows from the bottom drainage holes.

Step 5

Set the planted white pine seeds into a spot where they can get indirect light and stay warm (50 to 65 degrees F). Keep the soil moist until you see the first signs of green growth and then water only when the soil feels dry.

Step 6

Move the seedlings to an area where they will be under direct sunlight for about two hours a day, and the rest of the day in indirect light or shade. You will want to transplant them to a permanent spot or much larger pots when the outside temperatures stay above freezing at night, or around May.

Things You'll Need

  • White pine seeds
  • Peat moss
  • Plastic bag
  • Potting soil
  • Plant pot

References

  • Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources: Pinus Strobus
  • University of Minnesota: My Minnesota Woods
  • Wisconsin Cooperative Extension: Collecting and Planting Seeds of Cone-Bearing Trees
Keywords: planting white pine, pine seed plants, growing white pines

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 eHow.com. Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.