How to Grow a Buckeye Tree from Seeds

What You'll Need
Several buckeye seeds
Mulch (combination of a couple of the following items: dead leaves, straw, rotted sawdust, twigs and bark)
10-10-10 fertilizer
Wire mesh screen (optional)
Tree shelters (optional)
Shade cloth (optional)

The buckeye tree, Aesculus glabra, isalso known as the Ohio buckeye, American buckeye or fetid buckeye and is commonly planted from buckeye seeds. It is the state tree of Ohio, but it is also found throughout the Mississippi Valley, Nashville Basin and scattered throughout the South. The buckeye tree grows up to 60 feet tall and 24 inches in diameter. Other varieties of buckeyes include the Texas buckeye, yellow buckeye, red buckeye and dwarf buckeye. Follow these steps to plant any of the buckeye tree from seeds.

Step 1- Collect and Prepare Buckeye Seeds

Buckeye seeds begin ripening in September, falling from the trees through early October. Collect seeds just after they drop from the tree. Remove the husk from around the seed (it should begin to open when its fully ripened). Until you are ready to plant store them where they won't dry out. 

Step 2 - Plant Buckeye Seeds

Plant seeds in the fall. The germination rate for buckeye seeds is 50% so plant a handful of seeds to make sure that at least one grows. Work up the soil before planting.  Sow seeds in loose, fertile soil 3 inches deep. 

Step 3 - Prepare for the Winter

Cover the buckeye seed with a couple inches of mulch to keep the moisture in and the soil in place. If you live in an area where there are a lot of squirrels, placing a wire mesh screen over the planting area will keep the seeds from being kidnapped. In the spring, after the ground thaws, remove the mulch.

Step 4 - Feeding and Watering Buckeye Seedlings

Until germination, keep the soil moist but not wet. After seeds have germinated, seedlings should receive about 1 inch of water a week. If you are getting plenty of rainfall, you may not have to water at all. Fertilize lightly with a 10-10-10 fertilizer once a month. To allow the seedling to harden off for winter, stop fertilizing in August. Full-grown buckeye trees can grow in partial shade to full sun. Buckeye seedlings grow best in partial shade. Too much sun in the summer can cause heat scorch to the leaves and stress the seedling so that it won't grow as productively. Place a shade cloth over your seedlings in the summer to give it the shade it needs. A tree shelter can also be used when the tree is young to protect it from sun and animals that may want to eat it. 

Step 5 - Transplanting Buckeye Saplings

If you would like to move your sapling, a good time to transplant your buckeye is in the spring of its second year. Continue watering and feeding it is fully established.


Enjoy the shade and beauty of a buckeye tree!