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10 Simple Steps for Growing Pine Trees from Pine Tree Seeds

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Growing pine trees from pine tree seeds is not an easy task. In fact, it can be a real challenge to say the least. But with patience, luck and great determination, it is doable.

So, how to do you it? With just 10 simple steps! But first, a little overview about pine trees…

Do you know that in North America alone, there are different types of pine trees that you can grow from seeds? Here are the 13 most common species:

  • Eastern white pine
  • Western white pine
  • Sugar pine
  • Red pine
  • Pitch pine
  • Jack pine
  • Longleaf pine
  • Shortleaf pine
  • Loblolly Pine
  • Slash pine
  • Virginia pine
  • Lodgepole pine
  • Ponderosa pine

There may be different species but all pine trees share several characteristics. These are:

  • The leaves

All common pine trees have needles in bundles between 2-5 needles wrapped together in paper-thin scales that are attached to the twig.

  • The Cones

There are two types of pine cones – the male (produces pollen) and female (develops and drops seeds). And if you are planning to grow pine trees from seeds, then what you will be needing are the female or seed-bearing pine cones. How do you tell the difference? The female cones are larger and have woody scales while the male ones are smaller and not woody.

Male pine cone cluster. (Image source:

  • The Bark and Limbs

The bark and limbs of pine trees differ with respect to the environment where they grow. A pine tree with smooth bark generally grows in an environment where fire activity is limited. Pine trees that have adapted to a fire ecosystem will form a furrowed and scaly bark.

Also read: 5 Survival Uses of Pine Resin

10 Steps on How to Grow Pine Trees from Pine Tree Seeds

  1. Choose Your Pine Cones

Female pine cone. (Image source:

Just like humans, coniferous trees have specialized sex organs. In terms of pine cones, male pinecones have smaller form and lives for only a short few weeks compared to the female pine cones which are bigger and can live for several years. Other characteristics of male pine cones are:

  • Brown in color
  • Tube-like clusters on the branches of the pine
  • The cones contains scales

For female pinecones, the characteristic are;

  • The female pinecones scales are extended in a more broader fashion
  • Female pinecones sit lower on the tree
  • The scales of the female pinecones are much more prominent compared to the male pinecones
  1. Gather Your Female Cones.

Choosing the right pinecone is very important. And the best time to start gathering your pine cones is during the season of fall. Choose only the large brown or slightly green pinecones which are still closed. Pinecones that are already opened may have probably released their seeds already. According to Alan Toogood, an American horticulturist, trees that have a lot of cones are more likely to have viable seeds.

After you have gathered your female cones, lay your them in an open box at room temperature. As the cones dry up, it will open and release the seeds. Just in case your cones do not open, place your box in a hot spot until they do. To remove the seeds inside the cone, just use tweezers. Store the seeds in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.

  1. Improve Odds of Seed Germination

Stratify the pine tree seeds to improve odds of germination. In a plastic bag, mix your pine tree seeds with peat moss or sand. Then, put them inside the refrigerator for about four to seven weeks. It will take about 6-8 weeks for your pine tree seeds to germinate. After the germination process, and your pine tree seedling are about 2-3 inches tall, sow them in 3-inch pots.

  1. Water and Rearrange the Roots

Before you finally transplant your pine tree seedlings into the ground, make sure that the roots are always damp. But do not soak them in water. After the roots of the pine tree seedling have formed a dense ball, carefully rearrange the main root branches so that they are more spread out.

  1. Choose the Right Area to Plant Your Pine Tree

When planting your pine trees, make sure that each tree has plenty of open space. Remove all small plants that are near or around the root system base and every pine tree seeds should have good access to sunlight most especially during the cooler parts of the day.

  1. Choose a Good Day for Planting

Never plant your pine tree seedlings when weather conditions are very cold and windy.  The soil where you will plant your pine tree seeds should not have standing water or ice on the day you plant.

  1. Plant Your Pine Tree Seedling

Dig a hole larger than the root system and fill the bottom with top soil (about 10 cm). Next, Place your pine tree seedlings carefully in the hole and cover with soil until it is level with the surrounding soil.  If the pine tree seedling cannot support itself, or your area usually experiences unusually high winds, support the tree with a stake. Water your newly planted pine trees once a week. A gallon of water usually covers more or less around 230 square inches of your planting area. By September, stop watering your pine trees in order for the tree to have enough time to harden off for the winter arrives. Again, provide water for your pine trees at the end of October or before the first frost. During this time, your pine tree will already be entering dormancy and will not produce new growth.

  1. Protect Your Young Pine Tree from the Sun, Animals & Pests

It is important to protect your young pine trees from heat most especially during the hottest parts of the day. Use tarp or sheet of painted plywood as a sun shield for your trees. Place the shade at the west side of the tree to protect it. If there are animals roaming in your area, the best way to protect your tree is by using plastic tubes or a chicken wire fence encircling the seedling. For pests that attacks young pine trees ( pine beetles, pine sawfly, pine processionaly moth, pine needle cast, cenagium canker, large pine weevil) , there are many pest controls that you can buy in the market. It is up to you to choose which pest control you want for your trees. Best advice: use organic-based pest control.

  1. Mulch

Mulch helps control weed growth that is why mulching around the tree frequently is important. Wood chips are the best mulch that can be used for pine trees. Also, pull out any weeds, grass or small plants near the base of the pine tree. These grass and weeds compete with the young pine tree for food and nutrients from the soil. Removing them will help the tree absorb all the needed nutrients for it to grow.

  1. Prune Your Tree

While it is not necessary to prune your tree, removing or cutting diseased or dead branches is also important for the proper growth of the tree. When cutting diseased or dead branches, just cut it at a short distance from the trunk, leaving the branch collar ring between the branch and the trunk.

For comments, reaction and suggestions, write on the comment section bellow.

The post 10 Simple Steps for Growing Pine Trees from Pine Tree Seeds appeared first on Survival, Prepping, Homesteading Skills For Everyday Folk.


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