Grow Trees from Seeds

The perfect idea for an inexpensive and modestly-sized plant for a patio container: growing landscape trees from seed.

Container Chestnut Tree

Container Chestnut Tree

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

If grown in the ground this chestnut would be a large tree, but after 10 years in a container, it's still a small specimen, ideal for an urban garden or patio.

Even large trees can be kept to a manageable size when planted in a container, and they're easy to grow from seeds you can find for free when walking in the park. In autumn, look out for conkers from horse chestnuts, acorns from oaks, and sycamore seeds, all of which will germinate in a few months.

When to Plant: fall
At Their Best: Spring to fall
Time to Complete: 30 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • tree seeds (here, we used a conker from a horse chestnut tree)
  • plant pot
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • soil-based potting mix
  • trowel

Prepare to Plant

Check that your seeds are firm and have no holes or other signs of insect larvae inside. Place some clay pieces at the bottom of the pot, and nearly fill it with soil.

Preparing a Container for Planting Tree Seeds

Preparing a Container for Planting Tree Seeds

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant Your Seeds

Plant the conker about 1 inch deep, and cover with soil. Water and place in a shady spot outside. Check that the soil doesn't dry out. Your seed will sprout in spring.

Planting Conker

Planting Conker

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Other Seeds to Try

It's worth planting a range of tree seeds, just in case some don't germinate. Collect seeds when they are ripe — undamaged seeds that have fallen to the ground will be at the right stage — and plant them immediately, since they dehydrate quickly if they're stored. Collect ripe acorns, hazelnuts, crabapples, eating apples and cherries, either from the park or from your own or a friend's garden. Remove the flesh from the fruits and wash the seeds first before sowing. Many tree seeds require a period of cold, or even frost, before they will germinate, so leave your pots outside where they won't get blown over.

Trees Grown in Patio Container

Trees Grown in Patio Container

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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