The Q&A Archives: Planting Pine Tree Seeds

Question: I want to start some pine seedlings (Pinus radiata) from seed that I have for planting out later. What is the procedure? What starting media to use, what watering required, is shade or sun best, what is the seed treatment before planting, Is damping off a problem, etc. Any help will be appreciated.

Answer: Pine seeds have a pre-chilling requirement prior to germination. Soak the seeds overnight, then mix with moistened growing medium, seal in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for 6 weeks. At the end of the chilling period, remove the seeds and sow on the surface of moistened seed starting mix in pots or trays. Just barely press the seeds in (seeds need light to germinate). Cover the trays or pots with plastic wrap to help hold in moisture. Pine seeds will germinate in 30-60 days when kept at 55F-65F degrees. Remove plastic wrap as soon as seedlings appear and place under a source of artificial light. Seedlings will need 14-16 hours of light each day. Thin the seedlings by transplanting, or by cutting the stems of those that are overcrowded. If you use new or sterilized seed starting mix and new or freshly disinfected pots, and place your seedlings where they will get adequate air circulation, damping off should not be a problem.

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