How to Start Nut Trees


When squirrels bury walnuts in fall, are they hiding them for future meals or planting a new tree for their grandchildren? If you live in an area where squirrels and walnuts live, you'll sometimes find a baby walnut tree growing in your flowerbed or with a potted plant. This goes to show how easy it can be to start a nut tree: if the squirrels can do it, then so can you. Many types of nuts reseed themselves readily, so with some, like those "weedy" walnuts, it's very easy to start a new tree from a nut.

Step 1

Gather several well-formed nuts of the variety you want to grow and check to make sure they have no apparent insect damage, such as holes in the shell. Also make sure you use raw nuts and none that have been roasted.

Step 2

Soak your nuts in water for two days to soften the shell and aid germination.

Step 3

Fill a nursery pot or other container with drainage holes half full with sand, vermiculite or sawdust, and then water it well. Set several nuts on top of the damp material and then cover them with about 2 inches of additional sand, vermiculite or sawdust.

Step 4

Refrigerate your pot for three months. The temperature for many nut trees must be between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your pot watered during this stratification period.

Step 5

Plant your stratified nuts in individual 1-gallon nursery pots in early spring. Use a balanced potting soil. Plant each nut, one to a pot, about 2 inches deep and water thoroughly. Keep your pots in a sunny area and keep them well watered until you see germination starting. Then reduce watering to once a week.

Step 6

Plant your seedling trees in their permanent outdoor location when they are 8 to 12 inches tall. Depending on the type of nut, this can take up to one year from the time you soaked the nuts in water.

Things You'll Need

  • Nuts
  • Sand, vermiculite or sawdust
  • 1-gallon nursery pots
  • Standard potting soil


  • Oklahoma State University: Starting Pecan Trees
  • Land Owner Resource Center Online: Planting and Caring for Nut Trees
Keywords: nut trees, walnuts growing, gardening edibles

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs 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 and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.