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How to grow trees from seed

Growing trees from seed can be an interesting adventure for both amateur and expert gardeners. It is exciting enough to see a small seed germinate in a flower or vegetable, imagine seeing trees mature with the knowledge that you planted and cared for them from seed! Fruit and nut trees are wonderful edible additions to your garden, while woody and flowering varieties can provide character and much-needed shade. Although there are some setbacks in the process, growing trees from seed can be an interesting, educational and rewarding experience. Read on to find out how!

The suitability of the tree

Before you start sowing any seeds, you want to decide what type of tree and how many you want. Find trees that are suitable for your country. Do some research and make sure that your climate, soil pH and soil restrictions are compatible with the trees you want to grow. Most citrus trees will not bloom in cooler climates, for example, but apple and cherry trees can thrive. Try not to fight with nature or manipulate the earth too much. Grow trees that want to live where you live. It is the best way to ensure the longevity of the tree and healthy products for decades to come.

Sourcing seeds

The cheapest way to get seeds is to collect them yourself. Choose local varieties, because you know they are already growing in your area. Be sure to sort and clean them and store them properly until needed. SSpecial varieties such as ornamentals, flowering or fruit trees are often found on private property, so you may not easily be able to feed these kinds ̵

1; but you can buy fruit in the grocery store! Citrus seeds, apple cores and cherry and avocado groves are just a few examples of seeds you can use for the price of the fruit itself – but beware, their effectiveness is unreliable. You can buy other varieties from garden centers and reputable seed companies, either in store or online. Look for organic varieties and heritage types, whenever possible.

Seeds against plants

The biggest disadvantage of planting a tree from seed is the time it takes to mature. Buying a plant or a young tree can bear fruit or flower within a few years instead of having to wait longer. A fruit tree plant is likely to be a clone that has been grafted onto the rootstock, which means that it will bear a certain type of fruit or nuts. If you want exact fruits, seedlings are the way to go, but if you are okay with having a variety of fruits, regardless of type, seeds will do the trick. If you have patience and get excited by the thought of going through the seed-to-tree process, at least collect these seeds!

a young tree growing in dirt

Tree genetics

Different trees will grow in different ways. The majority of fruit trees must be cross-determined to provide any yield. Because of this, it is unlikely that you will ever be able to get an exact replication of your favorite apple tree from seed, for example – it will always be a combination of the tree and any wind or animal determinant that visited. The only way you get a “real” variety is if it is a self-determinant and no other pollinators interfere. Tree trees, like the deciduous varieties that grow in four seasonal climates, go through a more difficult process before germination can even occur. If you want to plant one of these trees, you must mimic the conditions by creating a similar environment and process for the seed to break dormancy, so-called cutting and / or stratification.


Most tree seeds will have a hard, outer shell or fur that must be cracked or softened for successful germination. The term for this process is cutting and can be left to natural means or, assisted. Filing, grinding, cooking and the use of certain chemicals are all ways to manually prepare seeds for germination. Relying on nature is not a safe bet, as seeds tend to break down slowly; sometimes by passing through animals’ digestive organs, extreme weather conditions such as freezing and thawing or heat, or through microbes in the soil. Assisted cutting helps ensure germination with better results.


Not all seeds need to undergo pre-pruning, but the majority need to undergo cold stratification. In nature, seeds germinate only when exposed to cool, humid weather conditions for weeks or months. Basically, winter is what breaks a dormant period of seeds. Assisted stratification can be done in your home, manually. Place your seeds in a mixture of equal parts peat moss and sand in a sealed plastic container and leave in the fridge for a few weeks or months, depending on the variety of the tree. Do not put in the freezer, as moisture is as important as the cold.

budding seeds


Once you have noticed germination, you can keep seeds indoors under growing light before planting in your garden or orchard. Germination time depends on the species, but when you notice sprouts, you may want to care for the plants just like everyone else and keep them indoors until they are strong enough to survive on their own. A lot of light is always important for this period, and some may even benefit from household planting fertilizers. Most plants prefer to be planted in spring or autumn, while some species, especially warmer climates, can be planted at any time as long as it is not too hot. It’s really quite specific to the type of tree.

Trees are good self-propagators and really do not need human intervention to repopulate, but there are many reasons why homeowners may want to grow their own trees from seed. It is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to experiment with different tree varieties and a great way to learn more about planting techniques. While it may not be for everyone, and definitely not for those who do not want to wait long to see results, growing a seed tree can be one of the greatest accomplishments a DIY gardener can achieve.

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