How to Grow a Tree From Juniper Seed

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Juniper berries contain several tiny seeds that can be nutured and planted over a period of several years.
Juniper berries contain several tiny seeds that can be nutured and planted over a period of several years. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Juniper is a small, bushy conifer that grows in many countries with cold climates, including Canada and Iceland. It produces dark-blue berries that contain small seeds and can grow at a variety of elevations. According to the Canadian "Trees for Life" organization, juniper is known to grow at altitudes of up to 3,500 meters. Growing juniper from seeds requires a significant investment of time. The seeds must be prepared for months before they can be planted in soil outdoors.

Rinse the seeds with water and place them in a moistened medium within a semisealed container to stratify them. The medium can be wet sand or peat moss.

Start the stratification process during December or January, and leave the seeds in the medium for about three months. Some species may require as little as two months of stratification, while others need five to six months. Maintain the seeds' temperature at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and keep the medium moist by adding small amounts of water throughout the process.

Dig a planting bed in a protected location with well-drained soil. The ideal juniper seed bed has sandy, loamy soil, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. It also recommends adding peat moss to the soil to increase drainage and encourage healthy seed development.

Create small furrows in the soil roughly 6 inches apart and 1 to 2 inches deep. Press a piece of two-by-four lumber into the ground to create the indented rows. Press seeds, up to 50 per foot, into the bottom of the furrows so that they are even with the soil.

Fill the remaining space in the indentations with peat moss until you level them with the ground. Moisten the planting bed with a light hose spray or a watering can to settle the dirt and peat moss around the seeds. Keep the growing area moist, but not wet. Saturated soil encourages the growth of harmful fungi and disease.

Moisten the seed bed, and remove weeds for a year or two until the small seedlings emerge. Once they begin to grow above ground level, only apply water to the bed when the soil around the roots is dry. Transplant the seedlings to a permanent location once they reach 8 to 10 inches in height.

Tips & Warnings

  • Research specific growing techniques for the particular juniper species you wish to grow. Stratification and germination periods vary significantly between breeds.
  • If the seeds dry out during stratification, they can revert to a dormant state until the following year.

References

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