It can be very rewarding and a lot of fun to grow a tree from a seed. Whether you want to give your child a lesson in nature’s life cycles or just want to give back to the earth, growing a tree from seed is simple fun for anyone.
Some trees are easier to grow from seeds than others. For example, apples and pears bought at the supermarket bare poor seeds as the fruits are actually grown on grafted plants.
Stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines and apricots are better candidates. You can also grow an oak tree from an acorn, and many other trees that drop seeds in the woods are also good candidates for growing attempts.
1. Collect your seeds. If you are attempting to grow a stone fruit, let the pit dry out on your counter and then crack it open. There will be almond-shaped seeds inside for you to plant.
If you’re picking acorns, choose green ones free of holes and disease. You can check to see if they are viable by seeing if they float. Good acorns will not float if left in water for a few minutes.
2. If your seeds have tough, woody shells, soak them overnight to soften the shell. You can also very lightly pierce the shell with a knife. This allows moisture in and speeds germination.
3. Mix your seeds with damp peat moss or sawdust in a gallon storage bag. Put your bag or your pots in the refrigerator. This will mimic the tree’s winter dormancy period.
4. Check for signs of germination starting about two weeks after you put your seeds in cold storage. For some trees, germination can take up two to three months.
When the root has thoroughly cracked through the seed body, plant the seed in about three inches of potting soil with the root facing down. Deeper containers are best to allow the taproot room to stretch.
5. Keep the potting soil moist but not soaked. When the plant is 4″ tall, you can transfer it into a larger pot or plant it outside.