How to Start Evergreens From Seeds

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Evergreens are trees that stay green year-round. Hundreds of types of evergreens exist, including cypress, pine, eucalyptus and spruce. New seeds are in a dormant state and require germination to resume growth. Growing an evergreen tree from a seed requires patience, but it can be done successfully if you follow a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Evergreen seeds
  • Refrigerator
  • Shallow dish
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tweezers
  • 1-gallon clay pots with drainage holes
  • Organic soil-based compost
  • Coarse sand
  • Watering can
  • Place the seeds in a refrigerator for 21 days or more to stimulate the natural process of growth during the spring thaw. Refrigerate only the number of seeds you plan to use, with a few extra to replace those that don't germinate.

  • Drop the seeds in a shallow dish of water to soak overnight after the 21-day refrigeration period is over.

  • Remove the seeds from the water, and place them in another shallow dish. Cover the dish and seeds with plastic wrap to retain moisture.

  • Allow time for the seeds to germinate in a warm place. Germination for evergreen trees will begin in five days and continue for up to 20 days. Select the seeds that have developed the most after the 20-day germination period.

  • Fill the 1-gallon pots with soil. Check for sufficient drainage holes at the bottom of the pots. Prepare enough pots for the number of seeds you plan to use.

  • Use tweezers to place the germinated seeds in the prepared pots, one seed per container. Position a seed 1/8 inch deep in each pot of soil. Cover the seed lightly with soil, but do not pack the soil down. Shake the pot gently to even out the soil level and cover the seed.

  • Lightly cover the soil with coarse sand for mulch to help the soil retain moisture and to aerate it.

  • Put the potted seeds near a window that is exposed to full sunlight. Evergreens also grow well under artificial lights. Lights can be placed 30 cm above the seed pots and left on for 18 hours each day. The growth process will take longer with the sun than with artificial lighting. Water the seeds two times daily to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

  • Move seedlings that are at least 1 inch tall outside to acclimate them to the weather. Place the pots in a shady spot out of the wind. During cold nights, you may want to bring the pots inside and return them outdoors in the morning for a week or two.

  • Replant the seedlings in the ground when they are 10 to 12 inches high.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pick the seeds that grow best in the region you live in. Purchase seeds from a lawn and garden store or an online retailer.
  • If you ordered your seeds online and they arrived in a refrigerated package, they can be stored up to a year in their package in the freezer until you decide to use them.
  • You can add a sponge to the bottom of a pot to promote drainage and to prevent soil from falling out of the drainage holes.
  • If you don’t have coarse sand to mulch, you can use finely crushed rock.
  • If you don’t have a heavy pot, you can add small stones or gravel to a lighter-weight pot.
  • Applying too much fertilizer to seedlings can damage or kill them. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
  • Do not overwater or flood the seeds. Keep the soil moist but not soaked, especially when the seedlings are moved outdoors.
  • Do not use dark-colored pots for planting. Choose a color that is light so it will reflect the sun. Dark colors can cause soil temperatures to rise, which may be fatal to a young tree.

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