How to Grow a Pine Tree from a Pine Cone

By Elliott Kuhn , last updated February 9, 2011

Young pine tree saplings happen to be one of the best oxygen producers in our eco-system, so planting one from seed will be a sweet contribution to the new global tides of “green thinking." A cone can hold up to 200 seeds. The seeds are located on upper surface of each scale. You will want to look for a few closed pine cones, as the open ones have already dropped their seeds. They are usually a dark brown in color. The cones are usually ripe for the picking around mid to late summer and early fall.

Lay the cones out in the sun for drying or bake them at a low heat (120 degrees Fahrenheit). The cone will release the seeds when it is dry. If you want to mimic nature, plant the seeds in fall. Find a nice tray for seeding and laying a nice mix of seed starter soil. Place the seeds no less than 1” apart, and water them well. Cover them with plastic wrap to assure that moisture and heat are retained—vital components for their initial sprouting. Keep the plastic on until the seeds have sprouted. At that time remove the plastic, continue to water them, and give them a little shade. A mix of a high nitrogen and phosphorous blend, such as fish fertilizer, can help to strengthen the growth of the young seedlings. Also keep an eye out for any fungi, and be prepared to treat the problem.

Once the seedlings are about an inch or two, you can transplant them into pots, or even an old half-gallon milk carton cut in half. When they have reached about six inches to a foot, they are ready to be transplanted into the great outdoors. They will still need a few years of attention, making sure that weeds and other entities don’t jeopardize their growth, but after they have grown past the height of the weeds, they should be strong enough to take care of themselves.

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