The Q&A Archives: Butternut Trees

Question: We want to plant butternut trees from seed. What growing conditions do they require? Type of soil? How much light? How much moisture? What's the lowest winter temperature they can tolerate?

Answer: The butternut tree (Juglans cinerea L.) is large, up to 100 feet, is native tree, found from southern Canada to Georgia, and west to the Great Plains. They should do fine in your northern location, but want full sun and moist, well drained soil for best growth.

For best seed germination, place seed in moist (not soggy) sand in a ziplock bag or covered glass jar in the refrigerator for about two months before planting. Then plant in a good growing mix in tall containers.

Square, waxed paper (quart) milk cartons with the bottoms removed and set on hardware cloth (wire) make good starting containers. The root won't tend to circle the square containers and when roots reach the bottom the air below stops them and encourages branching growth. After a few months to a year, the plants may be set in their final growing location.

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