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How to Plant & Grow Conifer Seeds

By Heide Braley ; Updated September 21, 2017
Pine Cone

There is something permanent about planting and growing a conifer tree, whether it be a pine or a spruce, or a cedar or any other. They usually are evergreen and well-scented, and add a nice sound to the yard when the wind blows through their branches. Conifers can be raised from seeds as long as long as a few critical steps are followed. The new seedlings should appear just a few months after the seeds are planted.

Remove the seeds from the cone. Lift the woody sepals of the cone with the help of needle nose pliers. Turn the cone upside down and shake to loosen the seeds. Collect the seeds as soon as possible.

Cover the seeds on all sides with dampened peat moss. Make sure the peat moss is damp but not dripping wet or the seeds will rot. Hold the moss in your hand and give it a good squeeze to remove the extra water.

Place the seeds and peat moss into a plastic bag and close it. Set the bag in a vegetable drawer of a refrigerator for a cooling time or stratification period that equals the number of winter months in your area.

Prepare the plant pots on the day that the seeds will be removed from the refrigerator. Fill the pots with regular potting soil. Apply water until it runs from the bottom drainage holes. Poke a hole about 3 inches deep with the back of a pencil or any suitable object.

Remove the seeds from the refrigerator and the bag after the stratification. Handle them carefully in case some of them have started to sprout. Don't break off the tender roots.

Place the seeds in the prepared holes. Gently firm the soil over them. Water the seeds to settle the soil around the roots. Set them in a sunny window. Spouts should be visible within three or four weeks, but even then, don't expect more than 50 percent of the seeds to germinate.

Move the seedlings outside once the nighttime temperatures are above freezing. Make sure the plant gets full sun and enough moisture to keep the soil damp.


Things You Will Need

  • Peat moss
  • Plastic bag
  • Conifer seeds
  • Plant pot
  • Potting soil


  • Typically, conifer seedlings are transplanted to their permanent position when they are 2 or more years old.


  • Without stratifcation time, seeds will not break out of their dormancy and germinate.
  • Some conifer seeds need heat to break dormancy. Check with your local extension office.

About the Author


Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.