How to Grow Trees From Seeds


Many trees, such as maple, oak, aspen, pine and various fruit and nut trees can be started from seed. Some species are easy to grow. With others, you'll need little knowledge to give them the attention they require to get started.

Growing Your Tree Seeds

Step 1

Scarify your seeds. Some seeds, such as redbud, have hard seed coats that must be scarified or physically worn down. Soak the seeds in concentrated sulfuric acid for 30 minutes or submerge them in boiling water for one minute to improve the chances of germination.

Step 2

Remove the outer husk manually from seeds, such as oak, chestnut or hickory. Remove other seeds with harder shells with a file or nut cracker.

Step 3

Dry your seeds, if necessary. Seeds from some species of trees, such as aspen or maple, need to dry out before they will germinate. Dry seeds at room temperature.

Step 4

Break the dormancy of your seeds, if needed, by storing them for a time at cold temperatures to encourage germination.

Step 5

Sow the seeds directly in the ground in the fall if you live where temperatures drop below 40 degrees F for from 60 to 120 days, depending on the type of tree. Each type of seed has different chill requirements.

Step 6

Place your seeds approximately 1 inch deep in a container filled with half peat moss and half sand and refrigerate them for 60 to 120 days, depending on the type of tree, if you do not live where the temperature is appropriate for direct sowing or want to plant in spring or indoors.

Step 7

Plant your seeds in spring or early summer, in 1 or 2 inches of fertile soil and water them in.

Step 8

Plant your seeds directly in the ground or in individual pots and transplant them later. Ensure that the area where the seeds are planted is receives a good amount of sun each day.

Step 9

Check the seeds for signs of growth after about two or three weeks. Water regularly, keeping the soil damp, but not wet.

Step 10

Prune your trees, as they mature, in early spring to encourage new growth. Fertilize twice a year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Because seeds are produced by pollination from an unknown source, trees from seeds may not always resemble the parent plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree seeds
  • Plastic container and lid
  • Soil mixture of 1/2 peat moss and 1/2 sand


  • Germination of Tree Seed
  • Various Notes On Germinating Tree Seeds

Who Can Help

  • Tree/Shrub Seed Germination: Quick Reference
Keywords: propagation, deciduous, conifer, fruit, nut

About this Author

In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with over a decade of experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a licensed paramedic. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.