How To Plant and Grow Your Own Walnut Trees From Seeds

Walnut Trees

Walnut trees are a very attractive deciduous tree that grows in many parts of North America and other parts of the world. The dense foliage and height of this tree can make a welcome addition to your property and provide lots of much needed shade in a world that seems to get hotter every day, not to mention some tasty treats when the tree begins to bear fruit. I have grown many thousands of these trees from seed, and it's fairly easy to do.

Where To Start

The best thing to do first when collecting seed for any tree is to find out what's growing around you. This is a good indication of what seeds will have the best success in germinating. It is always best to grow seeds that came from same area that you want to grow your tree in. This ensures the tree is well adapted to the climate and soil conditions you have. If you see Walnuts growing quite well in or around your town, you are good to go.

When To Collect and What To Look For

The best time to collect is in the fall. In my area, i find the best time to go is in the beginning of October. Usually around the time of the first frost, you will notice them dropping quite rapidly from the trees. The seed is round shaped and will usually be green to a slightly yellowish color. You will notice the trees can be very very big, and the walnuts are not just something you can reach up and grab in most cases. You can probaby use the help of squirrels to get what you need however. They are more than helpful by knocking the walnuts to the ground, and if you are lucky enough you might even stumble on to their hidden cache. They will be less than impressed with you helping yourself, but you could always leave some seeds of some kind in return as i do.

Preparing The Seeds

The number of seeds you collect will depend on how many you plan on growing and how many you want to eat perhaps. When you have brought them home, you may want to clean them. This is not necessary to do if you just want to plant them. I have planted walnuts both with and without their husks over the years, and the only real difference i ever noticed is that the walnuts i had cleaned seemed to germinate a bit faster in the spring, and they had slightly better success when germinating. So the choice is up to you. If you do decide to clean them, you can start by always wearing heavy gloves... if you are smarter than me. Walnuts have a very black substance that will stain your hands much like a black dye, and i have never found anything that can remove it immediately. So the next thing you would do is place some walnuts on an old table, grab a hammer so that you are using it sideways rather than how you would hold it to hammer a nail. Tap the walnut firmly a couple times, and the husk will split right open, so you can remove the walnut from inside it quite easily. Voila, one walnut ready to plant. I have heard of other people driving over them to remove the husks, and i have heard of a type of grinder that will also dehusk walnuts, but the method i use is cheap and quite fast.

Planting

A general rule of thumb for most seeds is to never plant deeper than the width of the seed itself. So basically what you want to do is make a hole big enough so you are just covering them. You can plant them anytime after you have collected them. Walnuts require a period of cold stratification to enable germination in the spring. So planting in the fall will naturally do this for you. You can stratify seeds with other methods, but letting mother nature take care of it is the easiest way. You should plant more than you need to ensure success, you can always remove the weaker ones later, and keep the best one, or just transplant them apart. Once you have planted them, you can cover the ground above with hay and or chicken wire to prohibit the squirrels from stealing, a lot easier said then done however, these little animals can be quite persistent. If all goes well, you will notice walnut trees coming up in early spring, and they will grow well over a foot in the first season, maybe even two!

An Interesting Way To Remove Walnut Husks

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Comments 37 comments

boxinglady 4 years ago

I have several walnuts, in their husks, collected from the Henry Clay estate in Lexington, KY that I want to plant behind my house. I'm on the edge of a pine forest so very acid soil. My questions: Is acid soil okay? Should I start them in pots and then plant them in the ground in the spring to avoid squirrel raids? Do I have to take them out of the husk or will they be okay if I don't? (Given the descriptions of the black stuff, I really don't want to if I don't have to...I know you answered that question already, but please confirm.) Any other recommendations for trying to get them to grow in a Zone 5 area with acid soil? Thanks!


Night Writer profile image

Night Writer 4 years ago from Canada Author

In my opinion, the best time would be early spring when the ground is thawed enough for you to dig a big enough hole to accommodate the large tap roots they have, and while the tree is still dormant. You could transplant in fall but wait until all the leaves have dropped.


Sharlene 4 years ago

I have a Black Walnut tree a friend had growing in a houseplant she had out side, it is about 3'' tall. It is in a pot but want to know what to do with it for winter, and can I plant it outside now or not. I live in NE. thank you.


Hal 4 years ago

Another methof of removing the husk, leave green walnut in husk in a bucket ( to preserve from the greedy squirrels) and let them soften adn release themselves. Then use gloves ( to reduce staining and remove the nuts from the husks, the combined moisture seems to help with the softening. Then dry nuts you wish to eat in a net bag - or eat them fresh if you remove the inner membrane from the meat.


Adam Macià-Parris 4 years ago

Walnuts can take up to 8 or 10 years to bare fruit, so be patient. At least the European one, Junglans regia.

You can plant bought walnuts, as long as they haven't been treated with some chemical, which might not let them germinate. Try to get some form a local farmer or from a health shop, which might be organic and better for planting.

Planting a nut, is easy, just cover the walnut with soil and keep moist, and the best time for planting is in the Autumn or early Spring.


ms N khan 4 years ago

hi guys!

can some one please tell me how to germinate a walnut seed?

as i have been trying to plant the seeds over the years in many different ways but no luck so far lol

please help!!

ms khan

uk


Leaonia 4 years ago

I need only walnuts but this was very interesting to learn about!!!:)


Albanian highlander 4 years ago

I planted Europian chestnuts in B.C Canada and they grown about 4 feet so I expect them to grow and bare fruit soon!


Jo 4 years ago

Hi,

Can I plant store bought walnuts intended for eating?

I am in Victoria, Australia.


Annie 5 years ago

Hey - I am lucky and have walnut trees sprouting all over my garden courtesy of the local squirrel population. Have let one tree grow (the rest come up in the lawn) but after 5 years haven't had any fruit. Am keeping fingers crossed though :)


Pat 5 years ago

Some type of worm has infested my english walnut tree. What can they be and what can i do for it


mark 5 years ago

growing walnuts for timber and fruit, the form juglans reggia of which there are various types is good. It grows to a potentially great height.The walnut tree produces a male pussy willow and female catkin. the former is pendulous flower and the latter very small flower with two or three heads. The make and female fowering times don't always coincide with each other on the same tree hence sometimes a tree is not productive. Having a variety of different trees might help this problem. Walnut is a fantastic and beautiful timber and anyone cutting one down should consider finding a buyer for the trunk not burning it for firewood. Old trees with plenty of the chocolate brwon and black heartwood are the most prized and often used to make veneers in for cabinet making and the console of your rolls royce motorcars!


craig 5 years ago

I have a house i bought it has a walnut tree and a chestnut tree, buth produce bunches of fruit, how come there are no little trees growing around them? I know the squirrels, mice and chipmonks steal a bunch but im still finding nuts from last year on the ground so the critters are not getting them all.


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

Hoping to grow walnuts in Limousin, S W France. Would be good to grow for nuts and for wood. Any suggestions?


Lavinia 5 years ago

I need to plant nuts for the raccons. these animals die of starvation in the winter. I think that if they have protein until late autumm...they may have a better rate of survival. I am planning to plant them in the hill/park where they live. But now that I hear that the squirrels get to them and they dont develop...I'm very dissapoint it. any ideas any one? Oh I forgot ..I live in Victoria BC Canada


Bertie Fox 5 years ago

Interesting and encouraging article. Thank you. I read it just after planting 200 walnuts in a field which is very dry and where few other trees have taken. We have noticed squirrel planted walnuts coming up all over the place near this, so decided walnuts might cope with the dry conditions in summer.

On germination, I noticed that about a dozen of the nuts in the bottom of the bucket which had been left in the cold and damp since September/October had already germinated and produced 2 or 3 cm of root shoot.

I certainly hope they grow the one or two foot you say in the first season.

We are in northern central France by the way.


Jan, Iowa 5 years ago

Here in Iowa black walnuts grow everywhere. kind of a pain cause few things will grow where they have dropped their nuts year after year. They screw up the soil chemistry. I have a Carpathian walnut & an English walnut trees planted four years ago & they had nuts this spring, but a late frost took them.


DIONIZIO 6 years ago

WHERE CAN I GET SEED FOR THE BLACK WALNUT, IF I NEED THEM.

REGARDS

DON, UGANDA


Charlie 6 years ago

Planted eight black walnut seedlings last year, six of one variety, two of another. All about 18 inches above ground. The two both produced walnuts (1 and 2 resp.) during the year. One of them grew to about 8 ft last year and is about 12 feet now. Squirrels got two of the three nuts before I did. I stratified the survivor and planted it this spring but failed to protect it. Squirrel got it within several hours. All seedlings came from Stark.


Bonnie S. 6 years ago

I have an English walnut planted in 1998 that has never bloomed. Is this normal and should I plant another to cross pollinate if it does? It is next to a bright yard light that comes on automatically at dusk and off at dawn. Could this affect this tree's bloom cycle?


timo. mac 6 years ago

in my yard,in philadelphia, a common walnut bore fruit in its seventh year the tree was about 8 inches across and 18 feet high


Hi-Jinks profile image

Hi-Jinks 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Walnut is a pain to grow in a lawn and is a bleeder. I like black walnuts. I would say grow them somewhere you won't mow the grass. The sap will dip over your car. There are male and female trees and it will take seven to 12 years to find out.

By the way the EBay ad for English walnut shows a picture for a Sweetgum.


Night Writer profile image

Night Writer 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi. Sorry for taking so long to reply... I do believe most varieties of walnuts will cross pollinate. I came across this quote on the internet.

"The Heartnut is self-fruitful but will produce a larger crop if cross-pollinated with a Carpathian Walnut, Butternut or other Heartnut."

Hope that helps.


s.c. bushnell 6 years ago

sofar i haven't found out if heartnuts polinate carpathians or vic versa. or where ican buy heartnuts that ship to tex as. sealfleetch@yahoo.com found italian stone pines at Sam's club three years ago. zone 9 and doing fine. wish i had bought a couple more. but they were live christmas trees and no mention of pine nuts.


s c bushnell 7 years ago

will a heartnut polinate a carpathian?


HOPE TORRY 7 years ago

I'M ABOUT TO ASK SOMEONE TO CUT MY WALNUT TREE DOWN, THE ANIMALS HAVE TAKEN OVER MY BACKYARD. IT IS A TASK EVERYDAY OF CLEANING UP ALL OF THE WALNUTS SHELLS AND ALL OF WHAT IS LEFT BEHIND FROM THERE EATING FRENSEY..HELP


carolh 7 years ago

What should I feed the walnut tree my yard to help it fruit


Me 8 years ago

Hi People!!!


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Thanks again for your info>

regards Zsuzsy


Night Writer profile image

Night Writer 8 years ago from Canada Author

These trees do produce both male and female flowers, so they can self pollinate, but i think it would be beneficial to plant a few for cross pollination.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Thanks Night Writer! With other words you're telling me I still will have to buy my walnuts for at least 10 more years ...Another question will I need to plant two trees for cross pollination?

Thanks again regards Zsuzsy


Night Writer profile image

Night Writer 8 years ago from Canada Author

Bob...thanks so much :)


Night Writer profile image

Night Writer 8 years ago from Canada Author

Zsuzsy Bee.....To the best of my knowledge, all walnut species are edible. I knew a man that use to go to a park nearby my home, and he would collect black walnuts. He said they tasted quite good. I do know they are quite hard to crack though. So perhaps if you were looking to collect edible walnuts with a thin shell, you might choose the Persian Walnut, or Carpathian Walnut as is is sometimes called. It is close to what you would buy in a store.

As for how long it takes a walnut tree to bear fruit, i honestly don't know. I think it depends a lot on whether the tree is growing wild, or whether it has been bought somewhere and planted, and many other factors probably as well. I grow thousands at the nursery, but they leave me at two years old, and when i collect walnuts for planting, the tree is over 20 years old i am sure. If i had to venture a guess i would say at least 10 years. For all you walnut lovers out there, feel free to add your thoughts on this.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

nice hub,


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Awesome HUB! How many years before you get a walnut crop Night Writer?

Also what kind of walnuts are the edible kind?

regards Zsuzsy


Night Writer profile image

Night Writer 8 years ago from Canada Author

yes if you look at the picture above you will notice the walnut has a greenish colored husk covering it. This would normally rot off if left on the ground, but you can remove it yourself, or just plant it like that.


Leon 8 years ago

never planted a walnut tree I love walnuts waz wondering so you crack the chell and the walnut is the seed

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