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How to Grow Black Walnut Trees From Seed

By Em Connell McCarty ; Updated September 21, 2017

Black walnut trees are easy to grown from seed. The trees are popular for their nutritious nuts and high-quality timber. However, this slow-to-mature tree takes time to grow. Walnut trees begin to produce nuts after ten years and require at least 35 to 40 years of growth before they are ready for timber harvest. All the more reason to get started as soon as possible on your black walnut production by planting their seeds.

Collect nuts from a black walnut tree in the fall, as soon as they start falling off of the tree. Look for a tall, straight tree with a healthy canopy as well as a bountiful harvest of nuts. Collect three nuts for every tree you want to grow.

Soak your walnuts in a bucket of water until the husks soften. This will make it easy to remove the husks by hand. It will also keep the nuts moist.

Remove the husks from your black walnuts. Wear gloves, as the husk will stain. Rinse the nuts again in a bucket of water. Discard any nuts that float in the water.

Plant your walnuts in the fall. Plant them 2 inches deep in high-quality, well-drained soil that has been cleared of all weeds. Plant a cluster of three walnuts for every one tree; this will improve the odds of growing a viable tree.

Cover the ground where you have planted your walnuts with chicken wire to prevent squirrels from digging them back up. Use stakes, pegs or bricks to hold the chicken wire down.

Remove the chicken wire in the spring and thin your seedlings to one tree per site if more than one nut sprouts. Keep the area around your seedlings free of weeds and any competition for resources.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Hand shovel
  • Chicken wire
  • Stakes, pegs or bricks

Tips

  • Remove the husk, rinse and plant your walnuts as soon as possible after you collect them. The nuts must remain moist. Being planted in the fall will naturally cold-treat the walnut. Walnuts must go through a cold treatment period in order to germinate.
  • If you are unable to plant your walnuts in the fall, you can stimulate germination through stratification. Put your walnuts in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 120 days. Plant them in the spring.
  • The planting spot you choose for your walnut tree should be in full sun and away from your garden as well as pine trees and blueberry bushes. The juglone from the roots of the walnut tree can have an adverse effect on several different plants.