How to Grow White Cedar From Seed

A white cedar tree is an evergreen that can grow up to 45 feet tall if it isn’t damaged by storms or pests during growth. The tree’s growth rate is fairly slow, especially when grown from seed. Often, seedlings are purchased from nurseries to be planted, due to the fact that the germination process for white cedar seeds is quite variable and slow. The tree produces leaves that are green and glossy with overlapping scales and often cover the branches entirely from the trunk to the tips. Some common cultivars of the white cedar tree include the affinity, sunkist, emerald, fastigiata, columnaris and pyramidalis.

Varieties of white cedar that are prominent in swamp ecosystems along the United States Atlantic and Gulf coast are particularly a concern for conservationists, as white-cedar swamps are being destroyed due to poor development and flooding. White cedar is an important wetland species that can live up to 800 years.

Things You'll Need

  • White cedar seed
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer
  • Pruning scissors
  • 14-cm pot
  • Potting soil
  • Container

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Wash your white cedar tree seeds in cool running water and place it into a covered container with moist vermiculite or potting soil. Leave the seed in your refrigerator for four weeks, checking to see that it remains moist. Make sure that you start this process in early spring.

Plant your white cedar seeds in a pot that is 14 cm in diameter and filled with potting soil. Make sure to bury the seeds at least 1/4 inch deep. Place the pot near a window or where there is plenty of sunlight. Water the soil immediately with a 1/2 cup of water.

Continue watering at least once a day or whenever the soil is dry. Transplant the seedling outdoor once it reaches 5 to 6 inches in height.

Plant seeds directly in the ground outside if desired. Determine a location for your white cedar tree seeds where full sun will reach the seed bed. It’s best to plant in soil that is commonly moist, but the white cedar is tolerant of dry and clay soils. Seeds will be naturally cold stratified if you plant them in the fall.

Dig a hole one to two inches deep and add three to four white cedar seeds. Cover the seeds with the soil that you dug up and tamp down the soil. Water the soil with one cup of water immediately so that the soil is slightly moist. Thin to one seeding if more develop.

Fertilize in late spring after the seedling starts to sprout. Use a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer and spread a 1/4-inch layer around the seed bed to help promote strong growth of the seedling. Continue watering whenever the soil is dry so that the soil remains moist.

Prune your tree when it’s young by clipping any sprouting branches, using pruning scissors or hedge clippers. Make sure that your seedling only has a single trunk throughout the first two years of growth.

Continue applying fertilizer each season and prune branches as necessary. Reduce watering each winter to two to three times a week or whenever the soil is dry.


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