How To Grow a Chestnut Tree From a Conker in 6 Steps!

Last Updated on September 17, 2022 by Griselda M.

Would you like to learn how to grow a chestnut tree from a conker? Because this is absolutely possible and a chestnut tree will make your landscape look so much better with its beautiful green foliage.

Chestnuts are deciduous trees belonging to the Fagaceae family. These plants are native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. The name is also used to describe the edible nuts produced by these trees.

Chestnuts are cultivated for the edible fruit that they produce, as well as for ornamental value as they are stunning decorative trees.

There are different species of chestnuts species with different sizes and shapes. One of the fastest growing species is the  American chestnut (Castanea dentata). It can reach heights of 100 feet.

Besides their aesthetic value, chestnuts are a good source of antioxidants and when consumed, can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart diseases.

Chestnuts produce something called conkers which can be used for their cultivation.

What Are Conkers?

Conkers are shiny seeds of the chestnuts. They grow covered by a green, spiky shell that splits when it falls, exposing the shiny conker inside.

Conkers are not nuts. They are the nut of the cork oak, which grows in temperate regions around the world. A conker is simply a hard, smooth, dry, oval-shaped shell that can be found inside a cork oak’s acorn. The cork oak is a deciduous tree. In general terms, conkers are the seeds of the chestnut tree. Let’s learn how to grow a chestnut tree from a conker.

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How do you take a cutting from a conker tree

How To Grow a Chestnut Tree From a Conker – A Step-By-Step Guide

  • Step 1:  Choose your type of tree

    • There are four main species of chestnuts, American Chestnut, European Chestnut (C. sativa), Chinese Chestnut (C. mollissima) and Japanese Chestnut (C. crenata). Choose the type that is best suited for your environment and garden needs. Some are better suited for colder than warmer climates, others don’t grow as tall as others. So it is best to do your research before selecting your species so that it has the best chance of survival.
  • Step 2:  Prepare your conker

    • You will first need to prepare your conker before planting it. Do this by soaking in water for 24-72 hours. Start your conker in a container with a bit of soil until you see growth before transplanting them into the soil. To see that the conker is ready to transplant in the soil, you will see it open. If you see any other signs of growth such as sprouting, do not worry, you can plant your conker and it will open in the soil.
  • Step 3:  Choose your ideal planting location

    • You can choose to grow your chestnut in the ground or on a tree trunk. The latter option is easier to do and can often look better. The location should be sunny, wind-protected, and with no other plants or trees nearby.
    • If you want to plant on a tree trunk, make sure that it’s not already covered by an old bark. Make sure to provide fertile, well draining soil for planting your chestnut tree and give it plenty of space to grow.
  • Step 4:  Care for your chestnut tree

    • Your chestnut tree will need a lot of attention in the early stages. It’s important to keep the area around the tree clean and free of weeds. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
    • Watering is usually done in the morning or the evening. In the first year, water your tree daily or as needed. If you’re growing on a tree trunk, it’s best to do this while the trunk is still bare.
    • This will prevent the tree from absorbing too much water and rotting. Keep the soil in the trunk moist but not wet. As the tree grows, you should water it less often.
    • When you first plant your chestnut tree, use a fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content. A good one is 10-10-10. Fertilize the tree regularly, about once a month.
    • When the tree starts to flower, you can fertilize it every two weeks. For optimal growth, water the tree regularly and keep the soil evenly moist but not wet. Chestnut trees are what is called self-compatible but still require cross pollination.
    • So if you want to increase the number of chestnuts you get per tree, you can plant different varieties together in the same area.
  • Step 5:  Harvest your chestnut tree

    • Chestnuts are slow growing trees. They take between two to seven years to produce nuts. So these trees will help you to practice patience.
    • If you planted the tree with your kids, they may no longer be kids by the time the plants start producing nuts. However they will appreciate having been involved in the birthing of those beautiful trees.
    •  You can use a nut picker, or you can put the nuts in a container and use a nutcracker. If you want to collect the nuts, you can use a nut rake to do so. Keep the nuts in a dry, warm place until they’re ready to be stored.
    • Chestnut trees need to be pruned. Pruning allows you to get more fruit from a tree. You should prune your tree regularly. If you don’t prune it, it will grow too large and start to produce many branches. This makes it more difficult to harvest the nuts.
  • Step 6:  Store your chestnuts

    • Once you’ve harvested your chestnuts, you can store them in a dry, dark place. Chestnuts can last up to two years if they’re stored properly.

Final Words On How To Grow a Chestnut Tree From a Conker

This guide has taught us how to grow a chestnut tree from a conker and enjoy a good harvest of chestnuts over several years. Chestnuts are long-term trees that one should add to their landscape with future goals in mind.

Ever wanted to grow your own chestnuts? Follow this guide to do so!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you grow a horse chestnut tree from a nut?

Chestnut trees are cultivated for their edible nuts. Chestnuts are usually propagated from seed, which is sown in the early spring. A few weeks later, when the seedlings have become well established, they are transplanted to the field or orchard.

How do you take a cutting from a conker tree?

Cuttings from a conker tree can be taken in spring, transplanted into well draining soil. You can dip your cutting in rooting hormone to help encourage fast rooting.

How long does a Conker take to germinate?

This is really dependent on the temperature and moisture conditions in your house. Conkers will normally take from 2-4 weeks to germinate. The best way to tell if they have germinated is by seeing the sprouts coming out of the seed. If you can't wait that long, we recommend putting them into a cold oven or refrigerator to speed up the process.

Can you keep a horse chestnut small?

You can keep your horse chestnut small by pruning it and leaving it small to enhance a wider tree.

Can I grow a chestnut tree indoors?

Chestnuts cannot grow well indoors as they require plenty of sun to thrive. Their roots are also very deep and will quickly get waterlogged if you don't give them enough time to dry out after watering.