How to Plant a Tree From a Seed

Overview

You can save money, but not always time, by planting certain trees from seed. If you know that your tree is an open pollinated or heirloom variety, its seeds will reproduce "true to type." However, if the tree is a hybrid variety, its seeds will revert to one of its "parents" and will not present you with the same tree or the identical type of fruit that the tree produced. Some fruit trees grown from seed can take up to 15 years to produce their fruit. So if you're eager for that apple or avocado, it's best to buy your tree from a nursery.

Step 1

Gather seeds from the tree you want to propagate. Fall is often the time of year that most trees produce their "fruit," whether it's a pinecone or an apple.

Step 2

Rinse all pulp from the seeds and then place them on an old window screen in a warm, dark, dry well-ventilated area for one week or longer.

Step 3

Mix half a cup of moist peat moss, Vermiculite and sand in a plastic zipper bag and then add no more than 2 tablespoons of seeds to the bag. Keep the bag in your refrigerator for 3-4 months. Check them every week to determine if they have begun to germinate. If they germinate before 3-4 months, remove them from the bag and plant them in pots.

Step 4

Combine peat moss with Vermiculite in a 50-50 blend and then fill your pots or flats with it. Plant your germinated seeds according to their size: plant large seeds deeper than small seeds. Keep the growing medium moist---it helps if you cover the top with plastic wrap in which you have punched a few small holes. Maintain a temperature in the 70 degree Fahrenheit range and don't allow your pots to receive too much direct sunlight.

Step 5

Begin giving your seedlings direct sun or artificial light when they are 2-3 inches tall. You might want to transplant seedlings into individual pots when they are just a few inches tall.

Step 6

Give your seedlings a dose of a balanced houseplant fertilizer after about 3 months. Continue fertilizing monthly. Always follow label instructions for mixing both granular and liquid plant food.

Step 7

Plant your young tree(s) in their permanent outdoor location when they are about 1 foot tall. This can take one or more years, depending on the type of tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Seeds
  • Window screen
  • Peat moss, Vermiculite or sand
  • Plastic zipper bags
  • Refrigerator
  • Pots or flats
  • Plastic wrap
  • Light (sun or artificial)
  • Houseplant fertilizer

References

  • Purdue University
  • UCB Botanical Garden forum
  • Apple info
Keywords: trees growing, seeds starting, gardening propagation

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.