How to Plant Seed for Pine Trees


Comprising more than 115 species, pine trees are indeed prolific. Pine trees produce protective cones that contain seeds. Once mature, pine cones release the seeds, which become fodder for birds and animals, or new pine trees. You can grow pine trees by sowing seeds directly in the ground or by stratifying and then planting them in seeding flats. Pine trees grow best in their natural environment, so collect cones in autumn from trees within 90 feet in elevation and 100 miles of where you intend to plant them. Thoroughly dry the cones, allowing them to open, and shake vigorously to release the seeds.

Seeding Directly in the Ground

Step 1

Clear a seeding site of rocks and debris using a metal rake. Make a half-inch to 1-inch hole with the tip of a pencil or your index finger. Insert the seed and cover with earth. Seeding should be in early fall.

Step 2

Space seeds 5 to 10 feet apart to give the growing pine trees room.

Step 3

Cover the site with a thin layer of mulch. Water regularly for one season, or until the seedlings are well-established.

Seeding in Flats

Step 1

Stratify pine seeds by placing them in a damp, sealed plastic bag filled with sand or perlite and refrigerating for three to 18 weeks. The duration of stratification will depend on the species of pine tree. Open the bag once a week and move the seeds to prevent compaction. Stratification mimics the natural winter germinating process.

Step 2

Prepare a sterile seeding flat with standard potting mix. Use a soil pH tester to determine pH levels, which should be between 5.0 to 5.5. Amend with peat moss if the soil's pH level is too high.

Step 3

Plant the seedlings in flats after white root tips appear. Place them 2 inches apart and cover with a half-inch to 1 inch of potting soil. Keep the soil moist.

Step 4

Re-pot individual pine tree seedlings in 4-inch pots after the second set of leaves appears.

Step 5

Transfer the seedlings to the ground during the spring, planting 5 to 10 feet apart. Water and mulch the seedlings until they are well-established.

Things You'll Need

  • Pine seeds
  • Metal rake
  • Pencil
  • Plastic bag
  • Seeding flats
  • pH tester
  • Potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Sand
  • Perlite (optional)


  • University of Wisconsin Extension
  • Washington State University
  • Tree Planters' Notes

Who Can Help

  • The Lovett Pinetum Charitable Foundation
  • American Conifer Society
Keywords: pine tree seeds, growing pine trees, propagate pine trees, plant pine seeds

About this Author

Rochelle French has been a writer and editor since 1994, providing services for businesses, novelists, and publishers. Her articles can be found on and She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from University of California, Davis and is a published author of six pseudonymous novels.