How to Start Tree Seeds


Although many types of trees are available from nurseries and garden centers, growing your own trees from seeds provides an inexpensive, fun alternative to purchasing seedlings. Tree seeds grow like many other types of bushes, flowers and groundcovers. Seeds gathered directly from the trees often require preparation before planting. Successfully growing trees from seeds requires gathering seeds at the correct time, as well as stratification and proper planting techniques.

Step 1

Collect your tree seeds from healthy, mature specimens. Most varieties of trees produce seeds in the fall. Collect fruit tree seeds from fallen fruit beneath the mature trees. Choose fresh pinecones after they drop from the tree. Do not pick immature seeds still clinging to the trees. Gather nuts from walnut trees and oak trees from the ground under these trees. Avoid seeds produced in prior years. Choose only freshly fallen seeds. Bring gathered seeds inside and sort, removing those damaged by mold or animals.

Step 2

Select a small, airtight container to stratify your tree seeds. Mix together equal parts of sand and peat moss. Fill the bottom of your container with this mix. Lay your seeds on the surface and cover with the mixture. Lightly moisten the stratification mixture with a small amount of water. Cover the container with a tight lid. Put your tree seeds in the refrigerator to stratify. Stratification provides a necessary dormant period for tree seeds before planting. Allow seeds to remain in the refrigerator for three to four months.

Step 3

Plant stratified seeds in containers filled with potting soil. Select biodegradable containers to avoid root shock during transplantation. Press your tree seeds into the soil to a depth two to three times the diameter of individual seeds. Firm the soil over the top of the planted seeds. Water thoroughly and place in a warm, light area to germinate. Keep soil slightly moist during germination. Transplant your small trees into your yard after seedlings reach a few inches in height.

Things You'll Need

  • Airtight container
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Potting soil
  • Biodegradable pots
  • Garden shovel


  • Purdue University: Growing Trees from Seed
  • Iowa State University: Germination of Tree Seed
Keywords: tree seeds, stratification, plant trees

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.