How to Harvest Pine Seeds for Planting

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Select only ripe cones for seed purposes.
Select only ripe cones for seed purposes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Expand the number of pines on your property without having to purchase expensive seedlings. When you have plenty of property to cover, harvest seed from your own pine trees to nurture into seedlings. It's free and fun.

Things You'll Need

  • String
  • Tweezers

Find a grove of pine trees. Seeds must be gathered from a gathering of trees. Individual trees do not produce fertile pine cones.

Sex the trees. Determine the gender of each tree until you have found at least one male and one female. Male pine trees have small cones that will not mature. Female pine trees have robust cones. Exact sizes will vary depending on variety of pine. Gather your cones from a female tree that is closest to a male tree.

Gather mature cones from the female pine tree. Mature cones will be found on the ground beneath the tree. Lift the skirt of the tree and collect undamaged cones. Cones may be wet, but not mildewed. Do not pull cones from the tree as they have not yet matured and will not grow for you.

Tie a string around each cone and hang them in a well lit, dry spot. This could be a sunny window. You will know the cones are dry when the scales spread apart. This process may take days or a week.

Remove seeds when the cones are fully dry by shaking them above a dry container. Seeds will fall when the cone is shaken. Remove remaining seeds with tweezers. The seeds are located between the scales. Gently pull the seed free by its wing. The wing is the flat end that is closest to the outside of the cone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pine cones of different varieties of pines ripen at different times.
  • Handle seeds gently while removing them.
  • Germination methods vary by pine species.
  • Animals eat pine seeds. Do not gather broken or mangled cones.
  • Do not gather mildewed cones.

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