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How to Plant Spruce Cone Seeds

The spruce is an evergreen tree, or shrub, depending on the variety being grown. Spruce trees are generally fast-growing and are easy to germinate from seed. There are many types of spruce, with a wide variety of growing habits. Some varieties, such as the Norway spruce, can grow to reach 150 feet in height. Dwarf varieties, like Maxwellii, grow to a mere two feet tall. Plant spruces in a sunny location and provide them with ample room for the variety you are growing.

Germinating Spruce Tree Seeds

Collect spruce cones in the fall. Place the cones into a paper bag for one to two months. Storing them in a paper bag will let the cones dry out so you can collect the seeds. Or you can simply set the cones into a bowl, or other like container, and wait for the seeds to drop out.

Shake the paper bag to remove the seeds from the cones. (Or pick out the seeds from the bowl.) Then put the seeds into a sealable polythene bag. Place the sealed bag containing the seeds into your freezer and store them there for five to six months.

Set the spruce seeds into a bowl of water to soak for 24 hours, to initiate an alternate method of stratification, which exposes the seeds to wintry conditions as in nature.

Mist a paper towel until it's well dampened. Place the spruce seeds onto the damp paper towel. Put the paper towel containing the spruce seeds into a sealable polythene bag. Seal the bag tightly and put the bag into your refrigerator.

Remove the seeds from the bag after the alloted time. Place the seeds into a shallow bowl. Pour a small amount of water into the bowl, just enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with clear plastic wrap. Germination of spruce seeds should begin in about a week but can take as long as 20 days. Plant the seeds once they begin to germinate.

Planting Spruce Tree Seeds

Fill up one-gallon pots with potting soil. Pat down the soil firmly in each pot.

Plant one to two seeds per pot. Use care when handing the seeds. Cover each up carefully with a 1/4-inch layer of sand.

Set the one-gallon pots in a light-filled place. Try to provide eight to ten hours of light daily. Check on the containers about once a day. Keep the soil well watered. Once the seedlings emerge, make sure to keep them well watered.

Place the seedlings outside once they are about four to five inches tall. Harden them off prior to placing them outside. Put them in a protected location for two to three hours a day for about 14 days.

Plant your spruce tree seedlings once they grow to about 10 to 12 inches in height.


Mother Earth News recommends fertilizing young spruce seedlings. Use an all purpose, liquid-based fertilizer to fertilize your spruce tree seedlings monthly. Follow the directions provided, diluting the strength to half of what is recommended.

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