Here’s how to grow fruit trees from seed, plus how long fruit trees take to bear from seed and tricks you can use for successful germination.
How to Grow 21 Amazing Nut and Fruit Trees From Seed
I am a big fan of growing trees from seed—especially fruit and nut trees. Today we’ll look at how long fruit trees take to bear from seed and some of the tricks you can use to germinate fruit tree seeds.
When you think of growing trees, you probably imagine buying a potted tree from a nursery, then digging a nice hole in your yard and popping it in.
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Rarely do we think about growing trees from seed anymore—but I’ll bet you want to give it a try after you see this video presentation that originally aired during the Home Grown Food Summit:
I’m not afraid about how long it takes. Many trees don’t take that long to produce and the ones that do take longer, still should produce well within your lifetime.
I’m also not afraid of getting “bad” fruit. Most fruit tree seeds will give you delicious fruit—and if they don’t, you can always graft on some scion wood from a variety you prefer. There is no loss!
Let’s take a look at how long fruit trees take to produce from seed, covering the 21 species from the video. I’ll also share additional videos on starting various trees as we go down through the list.
How Long Does It Take These Trees to Bear Fruit From Seed?
6–10 years to bear from seed. Pop seeds in a bag of moist soil in fridge and watch for roots to form, then plant the sprouted seeds.
5–13 years, but there are exceptions where they’ve produced earlier. Planting directly in the soil works better than starting them in water.
Often within a year or 2. Only “ornamental” and novelty types grow from seed. Nick seeds, soak, then plant in a warm place.
Can fruit in 3 years from seed. Plant the entire raw seed.
Plant fresh seeds—do not allow them to dry for very long as the embryos inside will die.
Time for citrus to produce fruit from seed:
- Key lime: 3–6 years
- Calamondin: 3–6 years
- Lemon: 3–6 years
- Orange: 6–15 years
- Grapefruit: 6–15 years
4–10 years. Plant the entire, unshelled nut halfway into moist soil and wait.
3–5 years. Plant fresh beans.
#8. Date Palms
About 8 years. Plant pits in slightly moist soil in a warm place and wait. Pits from dates in the supermarket will often grow.
Jackfruit from seed take 4–6 years to produce, though Pete Kanaris reports that one of his jackfruit trees bloomed at 18 months of age. Plant fresh seeds as soon as possible after removing from the fruit. Planting directly in the ground is better than starting them in pots.
6 years. Plant fresh seeds.
5–6 years for most improved mangoes. Take embryo out of the pit and don’t let it dry out. Plant in soil and wait! They also come up well from compost piles.
Polyembronic mango varieties can fruit in as little as 2 years from seed.
1 year. Plant seeds in the ground, or in pots. Likes it warm—don’t overwater seedlings or they’ll rot.
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Papaya takes about 1 year to produce fruit from seed. I plant fresh seeds right out of the fruit, then thin as needed.
#14. PawPaw (Asimina triloba)
4–8 years. Seeds must be taken from fresh fruit and not allowed to dry out. Put them in pots of soil outside through winter weather to stratify or put them in moist potting soil in the fridge for a few months, then plant in the spring. Germination takes a couple of months.
Can produce in as little as 18 months. Stratify in moist potting soil in the fridge, then plant when roots start forming.
#16. Pecans and Walnuts
About a decade. Stick them in the fridge for 3–4 months, or plant right in the ground in a cold area. Put the nuts in water first. Ones that float are bad. Chuck them.
Likely 3–5 years for fruit production. Treat the same as peaches.
Scrub off the pulp, dry the seeds on a paper towel, then plant. They say it takes 4–5 years to produce from seed, but I had a dwarf pomegranate produce from seed in just a couple of years.
3–5 years. Seeds lose viability in a few months, so wash and plant them right from the fruit.
#20. Tropical Almond
Plant a few in the ground and wait. Tropical almond can fruit in only 18 months from seed.
Here’s one I started:
They have great wood, as well, and are a beautiful shade tree.
#21. West Indian Locust
Our last tree is the weirdest of all. It’s the source of amber, and almost indestructible timber, and it’s a gigantic rainforest tree . . . with edible pods that bear the unflattering name “stinking toe.” Thing is, they taste great—and I’m going to put some in my yard! If you live in a tropical climate, you can grow ’em too. First, crack open the pods and eat the delicious fluffy sweet flour inside, and spit out the hard seeds.
Nick the seeds and soak them, then plant. They come up in a couple of weeks.
You can learn more about this amazing tree here.
Conclusion: Fruit Trees From Seed
I hope I got you excited about the possibilities! Every fruit stand is a source for beautiful fruit trees . . . the seeds are everywhere, you just have to plant them!
If you want to dive deeper into plant propagation, check out my book “Free Plants for Everyone: The Good Guide to Plant Propagation.”
What Do You Think?
Have you grown any of these fruit trees from seed? Share your best tips for success in the comments below!
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David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Find fresh gardening inspiration at his website TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to follow his popular YouTube channel.
Excellent knowledge, thank you so much for sharing. We had a magic apple tree on our other property and placed seeds from it in the refrigerator. Yesterday morning I see there is one seed that has germinated. Now I know to plant it right away. We are doing so tomorrow. Very excited to see how our little seedling does.
I currently have 31 trees potted up that I grew from seeds. I have grapefruit, orange, apple, lemon, pear, and date seedlings. I started them this year, so I will wait until November, 2021, to transplant them into my “orchard”. I am working on germinating more pear seeds (different varieties), some peach pits, and some plum pits. I have 5 peach trees in the garden that started from pits in my compost. My “orchard” has apple, almond, peach, pear, plum, pomegranate, and fig trees. Surprised at how easy seeds are to sprout from my organic produce.
Amazing! Thank you for the information. I guess I will start another collection.
Be warned about apples seeds. Since they require two different varieties to produce fruit you will not get the same kind of fruit that it came from. Also, most apple trees are grafted because their root systems are not be hardy in colder climates. In Minnesota all apple trees are grafted on hardy root stock for survival except one. It is the Chestnut crab apple.