How to Grow Plants From Woody Seeds


Seeds come in all shapes, sizes and textures. The outer shell, or coat, protects the embryo until it is ready to begin its growth cycle. Seeds enter dormancy if they are not directly planted after harvest. In nature, seeds with tough, woody coats get assistance from the soil, climate and even animals to break dormancy. When planting these types of seeds indoors or at a different time of year, hard seed coats must be manually altered to awaken the embryo.


Step 1

Place a pan of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.

Step 2

Remove pan from the burner and add hard-shelled seeds.

Step 3

Soak seeds in the boiled water until it cools to room temperature.

Step 4

Strain seeds thoroughly and sow immediately, according to the plant's growth requirements.


Step 1

Place lightly moistened sand or potting mix in an airtight storage container. Use enough medium to completely cover the seeds.

Step 2

Insert seeds into the container and cover them completely with the medium.

Step 3

Seal the container and place it in the refrigerator.

Step 4

Check the container occasionally to ensure that medium is moist but not saturated. If it is drying out, add just enough water to moisten it and seal the container tightly before putting it back in the refrigerator.

Step 5

Remove seeds after recommended period of chilling. Since stratification period varies by species, consult the seed packet or reference materials for the appropriate time to wait.

Step 6

Sow seeds immediately after stratification is completed, according to that plant's growing requirements.

Tips and Warnings

  • Scarified and stratified seeds cannot be stored.

Things You'll Need

  • Sauce pan
  • Water
  • Strainer
  • Air-tight storage container
  • Sand or potting mix


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Overcoming Seed Dormancy: Trees and Shrubs
  • Park Seed Company-Success With Seed: Do Some Seed Need Special Treatments to Germinate?
  • Ohio State University Extension-Master Gardener: Plant Propagations
Keywords: seed stratification method, seed scarification method, germinating tough seeds

About this Author

Deborah Waltenburg has been a freelance writer since 2002. In addition to her work for Demand Studios, Waltenburg has written for websites such as Freelance Writerville and Constant Content, and has worked as a ghostwriter for travel/tourism websites and numerous financial/debt reduction blogs.