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How to Grow Spruce Trees From Seed

By Tanya Khan ; Updated September 21, 2017
Spruce cones that contain seeds
spruce image by gosia10001 from Fotolia.com

Native to North America and Europe, Spruce trees are tall conifers with soft, light-colored wood and elegant cones. These hardy trees are resistant to cold weather and disease and grow in a variety of soils including peat or sand. These majestic trees grow up to 100 feet tall and are favored by landscapers who plant them in residential and commercial areas alike. Although seedlings are available in nurseries, collect fallen spruce cones to grow a spruce tree by seed in your backyard.

Visit your local field or park in early September and collect new cones in a paper bag. Keep them in the bag for two months or until they open and the seeds fall out when you shake them. Put the seeds in a plastic bag and freeze until April.

Soak the frozen seeds in water for a day before placing them in a plastic bag and refrigerating them for six weeks.

Add some water to a shallow dish, and place the seeds into it. Don't use too much water; the seeds should just be moist. Cover the dish with plastic wrap to retain moisture. The seeds will germinate in five to 20 days.

Pick germinated seeds carefully with tweezers and place in 2-gallon pots filled with good quality potting soil. Cover the seeds lightly with 1/4-inch crushed rock or coarse sand, without covering them with soil. Place the pots near a window and water lightly twice a day, until the soil is evenly moist.

Fertilize 1-inch tall seedlings twice a week with a balanced fertilizer. Follow manufacturers directions when applying fertilizer and continue application until July. Switch to a low nitrogen fertilizer after the summer, or stop applying it altogether.

Harden off seedlings in the summer (or when they are 1-inch tall) by placing them in a shady spot and slowly increasing their time outside. You can also bury the pots at soil level outdoors in fall.

Transplant the 10 to 12-inch high seedlings to their final location outside in the soil. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball but equally deep. Lower the seedling into it carefully, and backfill with soil to cover it. Tamp the soil down and cover with a 2-inch mulch layer.


Things You Will Need

  • Spruce cones
  • Paper bag
  • Water
  • Plastic bag
  • Freezer
  • Shallow dish
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tweezers
  • 2-gallon pots
  • Potting soil
  • Crushed rock or coarse sand
  • Watering can
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Shovel
  • Mulch


  • Make sure the pots have adequate drainage holes in the bottom.


  • You can damage or kill seedlings if you apply too much fertilizer.

About the Author


Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written numerous articles for various online and print sources. She has a Master of Business Administration in marketing but her passion lies in writing.