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How to Start Pine Trees From Seeds

pine tree image by pershing from

When starting any plant from seed, you will be most successful by mimicing what happens to the seed in its natural environment. Pine seeds, once released from the cone, fall to the forest floor where they will remain all winter in a cold, moist environment. When the weather warms and conditions are conducive to germination, the seed will break its dormancy and sprout. When starting pine trees from seeds, you can mimic that process in your own home.

Fill a plastic sandwich bag with moist sand. Add the pine tree seeds and make sure they are pushed into the sand. Close the bag, place it in the refrigerator and allow it to remain there for 90 days.

Fill individual planting pots with equal parts of sand, peat moss and potting soil. Moisten the mixture well and allow the pots to drain completely.

Remove the bag from the refrigerator and the pine tree seeds from the sand. Push the seeds 1 inch into the planting medium in the pots. Cover the seeds with soil.

Place the pots on a heat mat set to 70 degrees F, in a sunny area. Water the soil to keep it moist at all times. The seeds should sprout within 30 days.

Water the seedlings only when the soil feels dry when you poke your finger into the root area.

Transplant the pine tree seedlings into the landscape when they reach 6 inches in height.

Extract Pine Tree Seeds

Look for groups of pines of the species desired. Only female trees produce fertile seed, so you must learn to recognize the differences between the male and female trees before picking the cones. Do not choose open cones whose seeds will have released already or green cones with non-viable, immature seeds. If, after shaking them, any of the seeds cling to the cone, you can remove them with your fingers or tweezers. Store the seeds in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until ready to plant. Pick the nuts out by hand or winnow them by tossing the seeds and hulls in the air in a breeze, allowing the heavier nuts to fall back into the pan and the light hulls to blow away.

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