How To Plant Walnut From Seed [ Full Guide ]

Walnuts are not only delicious and nutritious, but they also make for beautiful trees that can enhance the landscape of any garden or orchard. Planting walnuts from seed can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow your own walnut trees. However, it requires patience and attention to detail. This comprehensive guide will provide you with detailed steps and essential information on how to successfully plant walnuts from seed.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Walnut From Seed

  1. Choosing the right walnut seeds: Select healthy, viable walnut seeds from a reliable source.
  2. Gathering supplies for planting walnut seeds: Gather containers, potting mix, and other necessary items.
  3. Preparing soil for planting walnut seeds: Ensure the soil is well-draining and fertile.
  4. Planting walnut seeds: Plant the walnut seeds in containers and provide them with optimal growing conditions.
  5. Caring for walnut seedlings: Maintain proper watering, sunlight, and nutrients as the seedlings grow.

Choosing The Right Walnut Seeds

When planting walnuts from seed, it is crucial to start with high-quality, viable seeds. Look for walnuts that are not only healthy and free from damage or disease but also from a reliable and reputable source. It is recommended to use fresh walnuts that have been harvested in the current growing season, as they have a higher chance of germination success. When selecting the walnuts, consider the following factors:

  • Variety: Choose walnuts from a variety that is well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. Common walnut varieties include English walnuts (Juglans regia) and black walnuts (Juglans nigra).
  • Health: Look for walnuts that are plump, free from mold, and without any visible signs of damage or rot.
  • Weight: Heavier walnuts are often indicative of a higher oil content and better viability.

After selecting the walnuts, it is essential to conduct a simple viability test to ensure their potential for germination. Fill a bowl with water and place the walnuts inside. Discard any seeds that float as they are likely not viable. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, indicating their potential for successful germination.

Gathering Supplies For Planting Walnut Seeds

Before planting walnut seeds, gather all the necessary supplies to provide the optimal environment for germination and seedling growth. The following items are typically required for planting walnut seeds:

  • Containers: Choose large, deep containers with drainage holes to allow for proper root development. Biodegradable pots or seedling trays can also be used.
  • Potting mix: Use a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. A mix specifically designed for starting seeds or for woody plants is ideal.
  • Watering can or spray bottle: Ensure you have a water source nearby for watering the seeds and seedlings.
  • Grow lights and/or heat mats (optional): If you are planting the seeds indoors, supplemental grow lights or heat mats can aid in germination and early seedling growth.
  • Mulch (for outdoor planting): If planting the seeds directly into the ground, have mulch ready to help retain moisture and control weeds.

By preparing these supplies in advance, you can streamline the planting process and provide the best possible start for your walnut seeds.

Preparing Soil For Planting Walnut Seeds

Creating the right growing medium is essential for the successful germination and early growth of walnut seeds. Whether you plan to grow the seeds in containers or directly in the ground, the soil should be fertile, well-draining, and free from any potential contaminants. Here’s how to prepare the soil for planting walnut seeds:

For Container Planting

  1. Choose the right potting mix: Use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining and provides good aeration, which is essential for healthy root development.
  2. Sterilize the potting mix: If using recycled or store-bought potting mix, consider sterilizing it to eliminate any disease-causing pathogens or unwanted pests.
  3. Fill containers: Fill the chosen containers with the potting mix, leaving sufficient space for planting the walnut seeds and accommodating their future growth.

For Outdoor Planting

  1. Select the planting site: Choose a location with well-draining soil and full sun exposure, away from competing vegetation and potential root disturbances.
  2. Prepare the soil: Clear the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris. Work the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches, incorporating organic matter such as compost to improve fertility.
  3. Test the soil: Consider conducting a soil test to assess the pH and fertility of the planting site. Walnuts thrive in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5.

Planting Walnut Seeds

Once you have chosen viable walnut seeds and prepared the growing medium, it’s time to plant the seeds. The planting method may vary depending on whether you are growing the seeds in containers or directly in the ground.

Planting Walnut Seeds In Containers

  1. Pre-soak the seeds (optional): Some gardeners opt to pre-soak the walnut seeds in water for 24 hours to help initiate the germination process.
  2. Plant the seeds: Make a planting hole in the potting mix, approximately 1-2 inches deep. Place the walnut seed in the hole, ensuring it is oriented with the pointed end facing up and the rounded end down.
  3. Cover the seeds: Gently cover the seeds with potting mix, keeping the top of the seed slightly exposed.

Planting Walnut Seeds Outdoors

  1. Choose the right time: Select a time for planting when the last frost has passed, and the soil temperature has warmed to around 60°F or 15°C.
  2. Plant the seeds: Dig planting holes that are 1-2 inches deep and place the walnut seeds in the holes, maintaining the proper orientation as described above.
  3. Cover the seeds: Backfill the holes with soil, lightly patting it down over the seeds to ensure good soil-to-seed contact.
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Regardless of the planting method, ensure that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Consider using a gentle mist spray to avoid disturbing the seeds while providing adequate moisture.

Caring For Walnut Seedlings

Successfully planting walnut seeds is just the beginning of the journey. Proper care and maintenance are crucial for the healthy growth of walnut seedlings. Here are some essential care guidelines to follow:

  1. Watering: Maintain consistent moisture levels for the seedlings, ensuring the soil remains evenly moist but not waterlogged. Avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely, as this can hinder germination and early growth.
  2. Sunlight: Provide the walnut seedlings with ample sunlight, ensuring they receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. If growing indoors, consider using grow lights to supplement natural light.
  3. Nutrient requirements: Once the seedlings have established their first set of true leaves, consider applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for growth.
  4. Thinning (if necessary): If multiple seedlings germinate in the same container, thin them out by carefully removing the weaker or crowded seedlings, leaving the healthiest one to grow.

As the walnut seedlings continue to grow, monitor them for signs of pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies, and address any issues promptly to ensure their continued health and vigor.

Growing walnut trees from seeds is an exciting and fulfilling endeavor that requires attention to detail and patience. By selecting viable walnut seeds, preparing the soil properly, and providing optimal care, you can successfully grow healthy walnut trees from seed. Whether you plant the seeds in containers or directly in the ground, monitoring the growth of the seedlings and providing the necessary care will yield rewarding results as the young trees develop and mature. With the comprehensive guidance provided in this article, you are well-equipped to embark on the journey of planting walnut seeds and witnessing the growth of your own walnut trees.

Caring For Walnut Seedlings

Planting walnuts from seeds is a cost-effective and rewarding way to grow your own walnut trees. While it may take a few years for the trees to reach maturity and bear nuts, the process of starting from a seed can be an enjoyable and educational experience.

Once you have planted the walnut seeds, it is crucial to take proper care of the seedlings. This involves providing the right amount of water, fertilizer, and protection from pests and diseases. Let us explore each aspect in detail.

Watering Walnut Seedlings

Walnut seedlings require consistent and adequate moisture to establish strong root systems. Here are some key points to consider when watering your walnut seedlings:

  1. Watering frequency: During the first year, water the walnut seedlings frequently to keep the soil consistently moist. Watering every 2-3 days is usually sufficient, depending on the weather and soil conditions. Once the seedling becomes established, gradually reduce the frequency but ensure that the soil does not dry out completely.

  2. Watering technique: Use a gentle watering method, such as a small watering can or a soaker hose, to avoid disturbing the delicate seedlings and compacting the soil. Direct the water towards the base of the plant to ensure deep watering and encourage the roots to grow downwards.

  3. Soil drainage: Walnut trees prefer well-draining soil, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and other diseases. If your garden soil does not drain well, consider amending it with organic matter or planting the seedlings in raised beds or containers filled with well-draining potting mix.

  4. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, around the base of the seedlings can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Mulch also suppresses weed growth, preventing competition for water and nutrients.

Fertilizing Walnut Seedlings

Proper fertilization is essential for the healthy growth and development of walnut seedlings. Here are some guidelines on fertilizing your walnut seedlings:

  1. Soil testing: Before applying fertilizers, it is advisable to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. This will help you identify any deficiencies or imbalances and adjust your fertilizer application accordingly.

  2. Nutrient requirements: Walnut trees require a balanced fertilizer with equal proportions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Look for a slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for trees or a complete fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can promote excessive leaf growth at the expense of nut production.

  3. Application method: Apply the fertilizer in early spring, just before new growth appears. Scatter the granules evenly around the base of the seedlings, keeping them at least 6 inches away from the trunk. Water the area thoroughly after applying the fertilizer to facilitate absorption.

  4. Organic alternatives: If you prefer organic fertilizers, options like compost, well-rotted manure, or organic-based tree fertilizers can be used. Apply these organic fertilizers in a similar manner as the synthetic ones, following package instructions for dosage and application frequency.

  5. Fertilizer schedule: During the first year, apply a small amount of fertilizer three times per year – in early spring, mid-summer, and early fall. In the following years, increase the amount of fertilizer gradually as the seedlings grow. Consult the specific product instructions for recommended dosage and frequency.

Protecting Walnut Seedlings From Pests And Diseases

Walnut seedlings are vulnerable to pests and diseases that can hinder their growth and development. Here are some preventive measures you can take to protect your walnut seedlings:

  1. Pest inspection: Regularly inspect your walnut seedlings for signs of pests such as aphids, mites, caterpillars, or borers. Early detection allows for prompt action to prevent infestations from spreading. Remove any affected leaves or branches and dispose of them away from the growing area.

  2. Mulching: As mentioned earlier, mulching helps regulate soil moisture and temperature. Additionally, certain types of organic mulch, such as wood chips or cocoa hulls, can act as a deterrent to pests like slugs or snails.

  3. Physical barriers: Placing physical barriers, such as screens or netting, around your walnut seedlings can protect them from birds or larger pests like rabbits. Be sure to secure the barriers firmly to prevent them from being knocked down by strong winds or animals.

  4. Fungicide application: Walnut trees are susceptible to diseases like walnut blight and powdery mildew. To prevent these diseases, apply a fungicide as a preventive measure during the dormant season or as soon as symptoms appear. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for safe and effective use.

  5. Regular maintenance: Keeping the area around your walnut seedlings clean and free of fallen leaves, fruits, or debris can minimize the risk of pests and diseases. Prune any dead or diseased branches promptly to prevent the spread of infections.

Planting walnut seeds and caring for the resulting seedlings can be a rewarding experience. By providing adequate moisture, proper fertilization, and protection from pests and diseases, you can ensure the healthy growth and development of your walnut seedlings. Remember to monitor their progress regularly, make adjustments as necessary, and enjoy watching them transform into majestic walnut trees that will eventually bless you with a bountiful harvest of delicious nuts.

Transplanting Walnut Seedlings Into Larger Pots

Walnuts are delicious, nutrient-rich nuts that are not only tasty but also highly nutritious. If you have ever wondered how to plant walnut from seed and grow your own walnut tree, you have come to the right place.

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To begin, you will need to gather fresh walnut seeds. Look for fully mature walnuts with intact shells and remove the outer husk. Once you have obtained your seeds, follow the steps below to successfully grow your walnut tree.

  1. Start by filling a 4-inch pot with well-draining potting soil. Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

  2. Plant one walnut seed about 1 inch deep in the center of the pot. Water the soil thoroughly until it is evenly moist but not soaking wet.

  3. Place the pot in a warm and well-lit area with indirect sunlight. Maintain a temperature of around 70°F (21°C) for optimal germination.

  4. Keep monitoring the soil moisture level to ensure it remains consistently moist. Avoid overwatering as it may cause rotting.

  5. After a few weeks, you should notice the emergence of a small shoot from the walnut seed. This is the initial growth of your walnut seedling.

  6. Once the seedling reaches a height of about 3 inches, it is ready to be transplanted into a larger pot. Choose a pot that is at least 8 inches in diameter and has good drainage.

  7. Carefully remove the seedling from its original pot, making sure to handle the delicate roots with care. Place the seedling in the center of the new pot, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.

  8. Fill the rest of the pot with well-draining potting soil, gently firming it around the seedling to provide stability.

  9. Water the newly transplanted seedling thoroughly and place it in a well-lit area with ample indirect sunlight. Continue to provide consistent moisture, ensuring the soil remains evenly moist.

  10. As the seedling continues to grow, monitor its water needs and adjust accordingly. Be cautious not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

Planting Walnut Seedlings In The Ground

  1. Select a suitable location to plant your walnut tree. Walnut trees prefer fertile, well-drained soil and full sun exposure. Ensure that the chosen area has adequate space for the tree to grow to its full size, as walnut trees can reach heights of 50-75 feet and have spreading canopies.

  2. Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or grass and loosening it to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will provide a favorable environment for the walnut tree’s root system to expand.

  3. Dig a hole that is approximately twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the walnut seedling. Gently place the seedling into the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.

  4. Backfill the hole with a mixture of soil and organic compost, ensuring that there are no air pockets around the roots. Lightly tamp down the soil to provide stability for the young tree.

  5. Create a small ring-shaped mound around the base of the tree to retain water and direct it towards the roots during watering.

  6. Water the newly planted walnut tree thoroughly, soaking the soil to encourage deep root penetration.

  7. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, around the base of the tree, extending about 3 feet in diameter. This will help conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.

  8. Regularly monitor the moisture levels of the soil and water the tree as needed, especially during dry spells. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

  9. As the walnut tree grows, consider staking it for additional support, especially in areas prone to strong winds. Use soft ties to secure the trunk to the stake, allowing some movement to promote trunk strength.

  10. Monitor the growth of the walnut tree closely, ensuring that it has enough space to develop its branches without overcrowding. Remove any competing vegetation or nearby plants that may shade or hinder the growth of the tree.

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Pruning Walnut Trees

Pruning is an essential practice for maintaining the health and productivity of walnut trees. Proper pruning helps shape the tree, promote airflow, and remove diseased or damaged branches. Follow these steps to prune your walnut tree effectively:

  1. Begin pruning during the dormant season, preferably in late winter or early spring before new growth occurs. This allows the tree to allocate resources towards new branch development.

  2. Start by removing any dead, diseased, or broken branches. Make clean cuts using sharp pruning shears or a pruning saw. Cut back to the branch collar rather than leaving stubs, as this promotes proper healing and reduces the risk of infection.

  3. Thin out crowded branches, especially those growing towards the center of the tree or crossing each other. Removing excessive branches allows better air circulation and sunlight penetration, which aids in preventing fungal diseases.

  4. Maintain an open canopy by removing any suckers or water sprouts emerging from the base or trunk of the tree. These vigorous shoots take away valuable nutrients from the tree and can hinder its overall growth.

  5. Remove any branches that are growing too close to the ground or obstructing pedestrian or vehicular paths. Pruning for clearance is important to prevent accidents and maintain the tree’s structure.

  6. Continuously monitor your walnut tree’s growth and prune as necessary throughout its lifespan. Regularly inspect for signs of disease or pest infestation and address them promptly to avoid any major damage.

Harvesting Walnut Trees

Walnut trees typically produce their first harvest after 5 to 7 years of growth. It is important to properly time the harvesting process to ensure the nuts reach optimum maturity. Follow these steps to harvest your walnut trees:

  1. Monitor the color of the walnut husks as they change from green to brown. This indicates that the nuts are nearing maturity.

  2. Conduct a maturity test by cutting open a few walnuts and examining the kernel. The nutmeat should be fully developed and fill the entire shell, with a cream-colored interior. If the kernels are still undeveloped or milky in appearance, the nuts need more time to mature.

  3. Once the walnuts have reached maturity, gather them by hand or use a long pole to shake the branches gently. Fallen nuts can then be gathered from the ground.

  4. Remove the husks from the walnuts using gloves or by placing them in a burlap sack and stomping on them gently. This will allow the nuts to be easily separated from the husks.

  5. To dry the walnuts, spread them out in a single layer in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Turn them regularly to ensure even drying and prevent mold or spoilage.

  6. After drying for a few weeks, the walnuts should have a moisture content of around 6%. Store them in a cool, dry place in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to maintain freshness.


Growing walnut trees from seed can be a rewarding experience, providing you with a bountiful harvest of delicious, nutritious nuts. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant walnut seeds, transplant seedlings into larger pots, plant them in the ground, prune the trees, and harvest the mature nuts.

Remember to provide the right environmental conditions, including well-drained soil, ample sunlight, and consistent moisture. Regularly monitor the growth of your walnut trees and take necessary measures, such as pruning and pest management, to promote healthy development.

With patience and proper care, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and watch as your walnut trees thrive and produce a flourishing walnut crop year after year.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Walnut Seeds?

It is recommended to plant walnut seeds in the fall, as the cooler temperatures provide optimal conditions for germination.

How Do I Prepare The Walnut Seeds For Planting?

Before planting, soak the walnut seeds in water for 24 hours to soften the hard outer shell. Then, remove any excess pulp and gently scrub the seeds to remove any remaining debris.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Walnut Seeds?

Walnut trees prefer well-draining, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter. Avoid soil that is too sandy or too clay-like, as these types of soil may hinder root growth.

How Deep Should I Plant The Walnut Seeds?

Walnut seeds should be planted around 2 inches deep in the soil. It is important not to plant them too deep, as this can prevent them from sprouting.

How Often Should I Water The Newly Planted Walnut Seeds?

Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water the seeds lightly every few days, making sure the soil does not dry out completely. Once the seeds have sprouted and established themselves, you can reduce the frequency of watering.