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Interested in growing a walnut tree from a single walnut? This project brings a lot of joy when the seedling finally sprout from the nut and after a while you can plant it in its usual place in the garden. Important when propagating through the walnuts themselves and not cuttings are the selection of the nuts, the right location and detailed instructions.


Before you can even consider a walnut tree, you need to be clear about the tree's footprint. Juglans regia easily reaches a height of between 20 and 30 meters in a few years with a crown diameter of about 15 meters or more. You can imagine that such a tree does not fit in every garden. Especially if you plan to grow several specimens, you should definitely have enough space available. The reason for this is the root system:

  • young tree: at least one meter deep taproot
  • when old: becomes flat-rooted with a diameter of about 15 meters

Walnuts are heart roots. At first they anchor themselves in the ground with their taproots and over the decades they spread via shallow roots. The tree therefore not only needs space above, but also in the ground. For this reason, it is essential to keep a distance of five to ten meters from the next building, sidewalks and the neighboring property to avoid problems. Walnut trees are also dependent on special site conditions in order to be able to sprout and grow effectively:

  • Light requirements: sunny to shaded
  • warm
  • sheltered from the wind
  • mild locations are recommended

Since the plants are species from the Mediterranean region and Asia, the trees prefer a climate that is not permanently cool or strong winds. You should also include these points in the search for a suitable location, because only then will you not run the risk of the trees going bad later. Locations in wine-growing regions are particularly recommended, as these remain quite mild even over the winter.

tip: Due to the heart root system, it is very difficult to transplant a walnut as this process can severely damage the roots. This is another reason to think carefully about the location.

select walnut

The selected nut is just as important as the location for the walnut tree. As with seed, it is important to choose germinable walnuts as only these will sprout easily and give rise to a new tree that you can then plant in your garden. For this reason, you can do without walnuts from the supermarket right from the start, as they have long since ceased to germinate due to the following points:

  • long transport routes, as they are often imported
  • long storage times after harvest

On average, walnuts go deaf when stored for about six months and have not been used up to that point. In addition, they can dry out considerably during this period, which also leads to non-germinable walnut kernels. Nuts that you collect fresh are ideal for this reason, be it from your own walnut tree, from a neighbor's specimen or from a city park. In total you need about five or six nuts for one seedling. Then do a float test with the nuts:

  • fill a container with water
  • now put the nuts in the water
  • floating nuts are deaf
  • however, those that sink to the bottom are heavy and germinable

The swim test shows you quickly and effectively which of the nuts you can use to grow new specimens. Of course, if you want to plant several walnut trees at the same time, you should try a larger number of walnuts in order to select the best nuts for this purpose. That's all you need to watch out for when choosing the right nut. However, do not allow yourself too much time after harvesting, otherwise the nuts will no longer be able to germinate.

tip: If you are very lucky, you will find germinable walnuts freshly collected at the weekly market or in health food stores. However, these must come from the region, as this means that they do not have to put up with long transport routes and thus storage times that rob them of the power to germinate.

Pull walnut tree: instructions

Cultivation outdoors

Outdoor cultivation is the ideal way for many gardeners to enrich their own garden with a walnut tree. In addition, outdoor cultivation is very easy to implement and in most cases causes little to no cost. The best time for this is right now after the fall harvest, i.e. depending on the climate of your garden and when the walnuts fall from the tree. If this is the case, proceed as follows:

1. Choose location

The most important thing for growing a walnut is the soil conditions of the site. Walnuts need suitable soil in order to be able to firmly anchor themselves with their initially developing taproot. This is the only way they can achieve the typical height and crown width in the long term. The following soil is ideal for the trees and nut to germinate quickly:

  • nutritious
  • humorous
  • profound
  • relaxed
  • sandy

Soils with a high proportion of clay or marl are recommended here, as they remain loose but deep with sufficient sand. In addition, lime does not harm.

2. Control walnuts

The nut is not opened before planting in the ground. If you were to open the walnut and only put the kernel in the ground, it would mold over time and would no longer be able to germinate. For this reason, check if the walnuts you choose are bad or damaged to keep them from rotting.

The shell of the walnut must not be damaged.

3. Plant walnuts

After you have prepared the soil and checked the walnuts, you can now plant them in the ground to grow a walnut tree. Insert these into the ground either vertically or horizontally with the pointed side down. From the top he drives germ of the walnut, which would mean that if the nut was planted incorrectly, it would grow downwards and thus never really sprout from the ground as a seedling.

4. Planting depth

You should choose between five and eight centimeters for the planting depth. This provides enough space for the dark germinator, which does not need sunlight for a while until it sprout from the ground.

5. Planting distance

The planting distance between the cores must be 15 to 20 centimeters, since the seedlings alone need enough space for rooting. In addition, walnuts can steal each other's nutrients, ultimately leading to a nutrient deficiency would lead. It is therefore essential to observe the planting distance.

6. Rest period

After that, just let the nut rest until next spring, because it won't sprout within a short time. Nothing shows up on the walnut over the winter until spring arrives. Now the walnut sprout and reaches a size of about 30 centimeters by autumn, which is the ideal time to remove the weakest specimens.

7. Remove weak specimens

Several specimens will sprout from the walnuts, of which you should only leave the two or three strongest. The weaker ones are simply pulled out of the ground, as they have not yet been able to fully anchor themselves. Now just leave the last specimens alone until next spring. The young plants do not need winter protection.

The following spring, a young walnut is selected from the specimens that have the strongest effect. Only this will remain in the end and grow into a walnut tree. The weaker trees are removed directly from the ground with sharp, clean scissors. You must never pull them out of the ground at this point, otherwise you will damage the roots of the plant and thereby restrict growth and regeneration. Then just let it grow and care for it accordingly.

8. Care

The first cut of the tree takes place in the third or fourth year, depending on how intensive the growth is. This in turn depends on the soil conditions. The cut is used to shape the crown.
You always have to be patient when growing a walnut outdoors. The nut needs a lot of time over at least one winter to be able to sprout. Nevertheless, it can be planted without any problems as long as the nuts are not dead and can still germinate. The only problem is possible mouse food of walnuts if they have to endure a winter outdoors. You can fence off the top, bottom, and sides of the soil around the nuts with chain link fencing to keep rodents from getting to them. These are removed immediately after expulsion.

tip: If you don't want to wait more than four to five years for the first harvest of your homegrown walnut tree, you need to graft it. All you need is a high-quality scion that can be used for grafting.

Cultivation in the pot

Of course, growing in pots is also possible and just as easy to implement. The big advantage of growing in pots is the protection against being eaten by mice and the easier separation of the weaker specimens from the stronger ones. On the other hand, this form of cultivation is associated with more effort, since the walnuts have to be moved several times. More on this in the following guide:

1st time

Autumn is also the right time for growing in pots, right after the harvest. In the fall, the nuts simply have the most strength to start germinating. The pot does not have to have a drainage hole.

2. Plant pot

Prepare a plant pot that has room for five to six nuts. Fill the bottom with damp leaves from the garden and place the nuts on top. No problem, the walnuts can lie right next to each other here. Finally, fill the pot with conventional garden soil. Press this down a bit.

3. Bury pot

Now close the pot with chain link fence, which protects against rodents. After that, simply bury the pot in the garden, regardless of the soil. Since you have created a suitable terrain for the cold stimulus of the nuts with leaves and garden soil, you do not have to pay attention to the soil conditions here.

4. Seedlings

In spring between May and April the seedlings will appear, which you then dig up and again only choose the three strongest specimens.

5. Repot

These are now placed in a pot with fresh garden soil, which is placed directly under the surface. The seedlings must look out of the ground. The ideal temperature should be between 2°C and around 10°C so that the seedlings do not freeze. Always keep slightly moist.

6. Plant out

After the ice saints, the seedlings are dug up and planted either in the same location or in another suitable location. From this point on, the nut can fully devote itself to growth. The rest of the cultivation is done in the same way as described above.

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