Cold Stratifying Peach, Nectarine and Cherry Seeds for Planting

This summer we had some amazing stone fruit. U-pick peaches and nectarines we picked with Matt’s grandma, and cherries purchased from the store. I wanted to grow some fruit trees from the pits. Fruit trees start small and don’t produce for at least 3 or 4 years, but I dream of someday having our own house or homestead where I can plant these trees.

Keep in mind that when you plant a seed from a fruit, you can’t be 100% sure what the fruit from your seedling is going to taste like. It’s very possible that the parent plant cross-pollinated with another variety in the grove, and you’ll get a different looking or tasting fruit. But if you love growing from seed like me, and you’re happy to be surprised, planting from seed can be a fun project.

I ate my fruit, and I saved the pits, scrubbing them clean of any pulp.

Then, I needed to cold-stratify the seeds. Cherries, peaches, and nectarines require the seed to go through a period of cold before germination. If you live somewhere that gets really cold in the winter, you could just stick the seeds in a pot outside for a few months. But in the Bay Area, it’s not that chilly, and I wanted to make sure I got as much germination as possible from my seeds. I stuck my seeds on a damp paper towel in a plastic bag, and put the bag in the fridge.

I’ve heard that the seeds need anywhere from 6-12 weeks of stratification before being germinated. I decided to leave mine from late July to October, to give them a nice long cold period.

Today I noticed my seeds had some mold and rot starting, so I put them in new bags with new paper towels, and I’m hoping they stay viable to be planted. Your environment for the seeds should be damp but not dripping wet, to minimize mold growth.

p.s. Another note if you decide to start fruit trees from seed– some trees, especially stone fruit, need a certain number of cold hours every winter to produce fruit. Make sure the trees you select will produce in your climate. Look up the number of “chill hours” required for cherry or nectarine or pear or apple, and then use a calculator to figure out how many chill hours your region receives.

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