How to Grow Hemlock Trees From Seed


The hemlock tree is one useful plant. The needles are used to make tea, the wood is harvested for flooring and the bark comes in handy in tanning leather. Four species of hemlock are native to the United States, two from the east (hardy to USDA zones 3 to 8) and two from the west (hardy to USDA zone 6). Growing a hemlock tree from seed is the easiest method of propagation for these graceful giants. Best of all, you can easily control their size by pruning and shaping them.

Step 1

Moisten a handful of coarse sand and place it in the plastic bag. Push the seeds into the sand, secure the top of the bag and place it in the refrigerator. Allow it to remain there for 3 to 4 months, or until the danger of frost has passed. Check the sand periodically to make sure it doesn't dry out. If it feels dry, spritz it with a misting bottle.

Step 2

Choose a spot to plant your hemlock trees. Eastern hemlock prefers partial sun but can thrive in full sun to partial shade. While the western hemlock grows best in full sun, it will tolerate partial shade. See the Tips for soil recommendations.

Step 3

Dig up the planting area in the garden or lawn to a depth of 8 inches. Pour a 2-inch layer of sand and a 2-inch layer of compost onto the soil and, using the gardening fork, mix in well with the existing soil to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 4

Plant the hemlock seeds 1/2 inch deep and cover with soil. If you are using the hemlocks as privacy hedging, plant the seeds 4, 6, or 8 feet apart, depending upon how dense you would like the hedge to be. Place a marker on the site so that you will remember where you planted the seeds.

Step 5

Water the area with the fine mist setting on your hose and keep the soil moist, not soggy, until the seeds sprout. This should occur within 60 days. Give the saplings one to two inches of water a week.

Step 6

Protect the new saplings from predators by building a cage around each one with chicken wire.

Things You'll Need

  • Coarse sand
  • Plastic bag
  • Gardening fork
  • Compost
  • Chicken wire


  • Arbor Day Foundation: Hemlock
  • University of Rhode Island: Western Hemlock
  • Oregon State University: Tsuga canadensis
Keywords: grow a hemlock tree from seed, propagate hemlock tree seeds, germinate hemlock tree seeds

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.