Fruit Tree Seeds
Fruit tree seeds, some times called pits or stones, are often just tossed in the trash. Why not have a little fun and see if you can sprout them. If you have a particular tree that you enjoy or that produces amazing, it might be possible to multiply your enjoyment by starting a few new trees from seeds.
There are a few issues
There are some things to understand first about growing from fruit tree seeds. Most fruit trees that you purchase from your local garden center or home improvement store are on grafted stock. Most fruit trees sold in home improvement stores and garden centers are a cutting from a known hybrid variety grafted to a rootstock of a variety that is known to be resistant to soil-borne diseases or pests.
The rootstock might be better suited to the soil or climatic conditions in your area. The downside to this is that the seeds may not reproduce true to type. Some grafted varieties are hybrids, the combination of two different varieties of the same fruit. The seed may or may not produce a tree that puts on fruit like the ones from which you got the seeds. The seeds of the hybrid contain genetic information for both types of trees that produced the hybrid. You probably won’t get the same sort of fruit that the original tree produces.
However, it is still worth a try in my book. It is fun to see if you can get a sprout and rewarding if it does reproduce true to type. Peach trees, nectarines, and apricots, or any of the trees which produce seeds that look like almonds, have a good chance of reproducing true to type. We have had great luck with peach trees. You can read more about our peach tree seedlings here
Saving the Fruit Tree Seeds
As the fruit begins to mature and you are harvesting, save the pits from your fruit and let them dry naturally by spreading them out on a flat surface for a few days. I place a piece of paper towel beneath them will aid in the drying process. Drying allows the seed inside the shell to shrink slightly, making it a bit easier to remove the shell. The shells will also become more brittle, making them easier to open.
Opening the shells can be a challenge. You can do it with a hammer, but you risk crushing the soft seed inside the shell, not to mention mashing your fingers and making a huge mess as the cracked shells and pieces go flying around. A better alternative is to use a vice. Place the shell so that the long seams lay along the opposing jaws of the vice and then slowly close the vice until the shell cracks. A handheld C-clamp can be used as well but is a bit trickier to hold and turn without the shell jumping free.
Once you have seeds free of the shell, store them in an airtight glass container in your fridge. You can store them for several weeks or longer until you are ready to plant.
Most fruit trees require a bit of stratification. Stratification is the process of deactivating certain enzymes in the seeds that inhibit germination. In layman’s terms, the seeds need some cold weather before they sprout. These enzymes are nature’s way of getting the timing right so that the seeds that fall to the ground germinate next spring, after some cold winter weather. You can fool the seeds into thinking they have gone through this process by following a few simple steps.
- Step one – Soak the seeds in room temperature water overnight.
- Step two – Put the seeds in a glass jar with some potting soil. The potting soil should be slightly damp but not wet. Close the jar tightly and put it into your refrigerator.
Potting and Planting
After about a month, you should starting checking the jar regularly. You should start to see the seeds sprouting. The first thing you will usually see is the tip of a white tendril of rootstock appearing from the seed. When you can see the tendril of the root, it is time to get those seeds into a suitable media and get them growing properly.
Use a good potting mix and plant the seeds with the root tendril pointing down. My rule is to plant the seed one and one-half times the length of the seed below the surface of the potting mix. Water thoroughly and put the pot where it can get some sun and will stay warm. Remember that the seed now thinks it is spring and is expecting the same sort of conditions.
Transplants the seedlings when they are 12 to 14 inches tall. Achieving this height may take a year or more, so be prepared to care for your new tree indoors for a while. We have had peach trees sprout from seeds in our landscape beds and have nurtured them into transplantable trees.
Starting trees from seeds can be challenging. Seeing a tree that you started from seed in your landscape and knowing that it will be a part of that landscape for years to come is a rewarding experience. We have given away hundreds of peachtree seedlings over the past few years, and it is gratifying to know that there are now hundreds of peach trees spread across West Texas that will bring sweet treats to their owners for years to come.
Links and Resources
For more information about organic gardening, lifestyles, and living, visit our website at West Texas Organic Gardening.
If you found the information here helpful, you might also find these articles on our website of interest.
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