How to Plant Pine Trees From Pine Cones

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Pine cones contain the seeds of the pine tree.
Pine cones contain the seeds of the pine tree. (Image: pine cone on a pine tree image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

Pine cones contain the seeds of the pine tree and develop in the cooler fall months. Once the pine cone matures, it turns brown and opens up, releasing the seeds into the wind. Although growing pine trees is most easily done by purchasing seedlings, it is possible to grow them from seeds as well. Pine tree seeds take much longer to germinate than other types of seeds, so growers should be prepared for a long wait.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Paper towel
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic food container
  • Water
  • 4- to 6-inch plant pots
  • Potting soil

Wait until fall to collect pine cones that fall off the tree onto the ground. Collect more pine cones than you think you need, since not all of the seeds will be viable.

Put on gloves and place a layer of paper towels or newspaper on a table. Hold the pine cone so that the tip is pointed downward and tap it gently on the table to release the seeds. The seeds look like tiny black dots that are encased in a thin, paper-like covering.

Fill a plastic food container with water until it is one-half to one-third full. Place the seeds into the water and allow them to soak for approximately 60 seconds. Use your fingers to scoop out the seeds that float, since they are the ones that are most likely to grow. Discard the water and the remaining seeds.

Fill four- to six--inch sized plant pots until they are three-quarters full of potting soil. Choose an all-purpose potting soil that does not contain clay. You will need one plant pot for each pine tree seed that you want to plant.

Water each pot until the soil is moist but not soggy.

Pick up a pine cone seed in your fingers and turn it vertically so that the pointed end is facing downward. Push the seed vertically into the center of the soil in one of the pots. Push the seed into the soil until it sits just underneath the surface. Insert the remaining pine tree seeds into the other pots in the same manner.

Place all of the pots in an indoor location that receives plenty of sun. Water the soil whenever the top of it is dry to touch and wait for germination. Germination times vary widely for pine trees, but can take up to three months.

Tips & Warnings

  • When the seedlings finally sprout and reach six to 12 inches tall, you can plant them outside in the ground.

References

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