Yes, you can grow a peach pit from grocery store fruit into a peach tree. These instructions also work for other cold hardy stone fruits including plum, cherry, and nectarines. New trees grown from seed this way will be hybrids of the original fruit and the pollinator.
You may also enjoy How to Grow An Apple Tree From Seed for more propagation tips.
Grow a Peach Tree From Seed
Yes, you can grow a fruit tree from seed but there are a few things to know first.
The steps for growing a tree from the seed (also called ‘pit‘ or ‘stone‘) found inside favorite cold-hardy fruits like peaches, plums, cherries, and nectarines are basically the same. The only thing that varies is how long they will each take to sprout. I’ve listed the estimated times below.
If you think about how this occurs naturally in a cold climate, propagation starts when the tree drops its ripe fruit at the end of the growing season or an animal eats the fruit and eliminates the seed.
Safe inside each fruit are seeds encased in a protective coat or shell. The characteristics of the coat vary depending on the type of fruit but they all serve the same purpose: to keep the seed dormant until the embryo matures and readies for germination.
Once I became obsessed with germinating all sorts of fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, I really started noticing how much the pits vary. And how many fruits we buy seem to be pit-free or have a partially formed pit. Those fruits are fine for eating but the ones we can propagate need a fully formed pit (see the photos, below).
To encourage sprouting, these cold hardy fruit seeds need one or both of these processes: stratification and scarification. And don’t worry: these are easy to mimic right in your kitchen.
Most stone fruits
need 3 to 4 months to stratify
at temperatures between 34 to 40°F (1 to 4°C)
- Stratification is a period of cold, damp conditions that some seeds require to break their embryonic dormancy phase.
- Scarification is cutting, scratching, or otherwise softening the seed coat / shell / wall to hasten germination.
We do this at home using a refrigerator. Once the pit is sufficiently chilled and softened, it’s grow time.
Considerations Before You Start
Want a Specific Variety of Fruit?
Since most seeds from fruit will not reproduce true to the parent, this type of germination is done mainly for fun and to encourage new gardeners to experiment with what they have. Yes, your peach pit may grow into a peach tree, but not the specific variety you started with. It will be a one-of-a-kind hybrid.
Also, beware that some seeds will never germinate at all or may require different conditions than described here. For example, some peach varieties require a much colder stratification period than a fridge can provide.
If you want to grow a specific variety that produces reliable fruit, it is recommended you start with a grafted tree instead of growing from seed. I’ve written more about this topic in How to Grow An Apple Tree From Seed. If you want to try this for fun, keep reading.
Start With Ripe Fruit
Start with ripe fruit that contains a pit. If the fruit is ready to eat, the seeds should be ready for the next step.
We’re going to remove the pit from the fruit, clean it up, and place it in moist paper towel in a container in the fridge for the required amount of time.
In this example I’m using a plum and a peach.
Remove and Clean Off the Pits
Remove the pit (seed with a protective coat) from each piece of fruit.
Keep in mind that even if you provide perfect conditions, not every seed will germinate. Some varieties are very stubborn and a certain percentage of seeds always fail. So, start a bunch from several different fruits to increase your odds.
The pits will be covered in stringy, pulpy stuff that we will need to remove.
I hold the pits under running water and use a nail brush to gently remove the unwanted stuff.
It does not have to be perfect.
If you like to experiment and have several pits, you might want to try sprouting some seeds with their coats on and others with their coats removed or cracked open. Ultimately I’ve not found an advantage to removing the coat prior to stratification but neither have I tested every possibility.
If you do want to remove the seed coat first, you can try soaking the pit in warm water for a few days and then removing it with a nutcracker or placing it in a vice and squeezing until it pops open. Take care to avoid causing any damage to the seed inside or it may not sprout.
Now is the time to create tags or labels for each type of fruit unless you are confident you’ll recognize them later.
Here is a close up of the peach pit:
And this is the plum pit:
Wrap Each Pit in Moist Paper Towel
Wrap paper towel (or a dish cloth) around each pit and moisten with water. You want it damp without being dripping wet. Some gardeners like to do this step with potting mix instead of towels where the pit is planted right in moistened potting mix. I prefer the paper towel method so I can easily check on the seed later.
I place everything in a food storage container with a lid but a Ziplock food bag works fine too. There is more on this below.
Label and Place in Back of Fridge
Stratification Period | Temperature
This information is generalized: if you know the variety you’re starting with, do a search to check if more specific information is available.
|Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)||100 days | 32 to 45°F|
|Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus)||90 to 150 days | 31 to 32°F|
|Plum (Prunus spp.)||60 to 90 days | 34 to 40°F|
|Peach (Prunus persica)||98 to 105 days | 32 to 45°F|
With everything labelled, place the container in the back of your fridge and set a reminder on your phone to check them weekly.
The seeds (pits) do not need light to sprout: just the moisture from the paper towels and the cold fridge temperature.
Check Weekly and Re-Moisten Paper Towel As Needed
Initially you will be checking each week to be sure the paper towel is staying moist. The whole process may fail if the pit dries out. It’s that constant exposure to moisture and cold that is gradually working toward germination.
At some point—many weeks along—you may notice the pit begins to crack open and the seed inside may begin to sprout. Yay!
Plant Sprouted Seeds
Once this happens, you can plant it in a pot with organic potting mix. I like to wait until there is at least an inch or two of growth so I’m confident the seedling will survive.
You may also find that, after the expected weeks or months of stratification, your pits are still closed or show few signs of sprouting. If things still seem hopeful, you have a few options. I recommend going ahead and planting them, either as-is or after removing the seed coat and then planting. At worst, they don’t grow: at best, you get a tree.
Your new little tree should be transitioned to life outdoors as soon as the risk of frost has passed. You can decide whether you want to keep it in a container (increasing the pot size as needed) or plant it in the ground.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How to Grow a Peach or Plum Tree From Seed (Tutorial)
Supplies & Materials
- 1 Peach ripe, with pit inside
- Remove pit from ripe peach.
- Gently scrub pulp from pit until fairly clean and photograph it for reference.
- Place pit in moist (not damp or dry) paper towel (fold around pit) and place in food storage container or bag.
- Label with fruit name and date .
- Keep in fridge for approximately 98 to 105 days. Best temperature for peach pits is 34 to 40°F (1 to 4°C).
- Check pit weekly and re-moisten paper towel as needed.
- When sprouted, sow pit 2-inches deep in flower pot with organic potting mix.
- Continue growing on a sunny window sill until risk of frost has passed. Then gradually introduce plant to outdoor growing conditions where it will remain.