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I have a few plum, nectarine, and peach pits from locally grown fruit and I'd like to try growing them, mostly indoors in pots. I'd also like to try one or two outside. What's the best way to go about doing this?

I looked around online and found some conflicting advice- some instructions said just put the stone in the ground outside, some insisted that stratification (in the refrigerator) was essential, some said it was optional but would just improve chances of germination. Some sources suggested that I break open the stone and plant the seed only, some said to plant the whole thing. What methods will bring me the most success for both indoor and outdoor locations? I'm not doing this to get delicious fruit- I know that's unlikely- this is more for fun and experimentation.

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I believe there appears to be conflicting advice concerning "stratification" (eg place in a refrigerator or not) and if to plant the "pits" or the "seeds" (within), mainly because it really depends on the exact method of seed germination you choose to pursue...

GROWING NEW FRUIT TREE PLANTS FROM SEED (direct link to PDF) via Penn State University Department of Horticulture

The seeds of all common tree fruits (apple, pear, peach, and cherry) require a chilling period before they will germinate and form new plants. The chilling period occurs after the fruit portion is ripe. This period is known as either dormancy or afterripening. During this period the embryo develops until it is mature. This is accomplished by subjecting the seeds to a cold treatment.

There are two systems whereby the necessary after ripening could be accomplished:

  1. Plant the pits (or seeds) directly outdoors after the first frost of the year (normally sometime in the Autumn/Fall). The cold Wintertime temperatures put the seeds though their "stratification" period.

    When planting outside in areas that go through freeze, thaw cycles you can get away with planting the pits, as mother nature will take care of breaking them open via seasonal changes.

  2. Before planting the seeds (or pits) indoors, the seeds need to be put through their "stratification" period, this is where placing them in a refrigerator comes in.

    To help increase the germination rate of indoor planting it's advisable to remove the seeds from the pits, when and how you do this is really up to you, personally I think it makes more sense to extract them from the pits just prior to planting ie After they've gone through their "stratification" period.

    Extract seeds and/or pits from the fruit of which you wish to reproduce new plants. Remove all adhering fruit portions and allow seeds to air dry. Then, place them in a glass jar or other suitable container to which a loosely fitted lid or cover may be added. Set the seeds aside in a cool place until mid-January.

    ... in mid-January mix the seeds with either moist (not wet) peat moss, sand or shredded paper towels. Return mixture to the container and replace lid. Place container and seeds in the refrigerator until after the last severe spring frosts. The seeds should remain in the refrigerator for at least 60 days.

Of course you can accomplish the required "stratification" period via either "outdoor" or "indoor" (refrigeration) methods, then transplant the saplings or seeds to where you want them (outside or inside).


Good luck! I hope the above is somewhat helpful, makes sense and does not make things even more confusing - if I've muddied the waters further please let me know so I can try to clear things up.

Also let me know if you're interested in further reading material, I can post some links to articles, resources that I believe are helpful/useful.

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I have never tried sowing plum, nectarine or peach pits/stones myself (although a pineapple crown I planted indoors some years ago grew into a fine specimen), so the advice below, on indoor planting, is not my own, but is drawn from The Pip Book by Keith Mossman. It doesn't include nectarines, but I imagine they can be treated in much the same way as peach stones.

  • Peach stones do not need to be wintered outdoors, but plum stones germinate better after wintering.

  • Only use stones from fruits that are absolutely ripe, and soak them in tepid water for 48 hours.

  • If the stones are still hard, crack them - just enough to allow moisture in the compost to penetrate, but very carefully, so as to avoid damaging the seed inside; squeeze the shell gently with a pair of nutcrackers, until it begins to fracture.

  • Plant one inch deep in individual peat pots filled with a good quality seed compost (peach trees are very intolerant of root disturbance, and the peat pots containing the seedlings can simply be transferred into larger containers, when the seedlings need to be moved).

  • Water gently (always use tepid water), place the pots either in clear polythene bags and stand them in a warm, light place (ordinary room temperature is high enough for germination) or, if you have one, in an unheated propagator, where they will require less watering.

  • Keep the compost slightly damp but not wet.

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+1 for advice on nutcracking. –  Lisa Sep 26 '11 at 3:31
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