Chestnuts are stately trees that are also a visual eye-catcher in a large garden. A distinction is made here between edible and horse chestnuts. The following article explains how these can be extracted from the fruit.

Horse or noble/edible chestnut

When talking about a chestnut tree, a distinction must be made between the inedible horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) and the sweet chestnuts (Castanea sativa), also known as chestnuts. Both trees are characteristic of autumn, as that is when they produce their fruit. Therefore, if you want to grow a chestnut tree yourself, you have to consider in advance whether the chestnuts should be eaten or whether they should be used as decoration. The two tree species differ as follows:

  • fruit
  • round and spherical in horse chestnut
  • flattened and pointed in sweet chestnut
  • leaves
  • Palmate and multi-limbed in horse chestnut
  • individually on branches of a chestnut tree
  • pericarp big difference
  • hard pointed spines on leathery shell in horse chestnut
  • soft spines in sweet chestnut

In addition, the horse chestnuts have the well-known upright flower candles, whereas the chestnuts only form an inconspicuous flower similar to the pussy willow.


All fruits, whether from the Ross, the noble or a completely different chestnut variety, are germinable. These can be collected during a walk in the forest to cultivate them in your own garden. A chestnut tree that has already been planted can also be propagated in this way. However, the following conditions must be met for the fruit to germinate:

  • must not show any damage
  • not infested with pests
  • This includes chestnut borers or chestnut winders
  • Do not pick up chestnuts from the ground with holes
  • ideally pick straight from the tree
Note: The chestnuts should not dry out if they are to be germinated. It is better to store them in a damp place immediately after collecting them, so that the moisture, for example from the forest floor, is retained.

pull seedling

Chestnuts are cold germs. This means that the seeds will not germinate until they have been exposed to a certain temperature. To achieve this, the collected fruits should be dealt with as follows:

  • use small pots
  • Put the fruit in a nutrient-poor substrate
  • potting soil is suitable for this
  • Always keep soil moist
  • but must not be too wet
  • Put the container in the fridge for the first few days
  • alternatively, fruits can be cooled before sowing
  • moisten for this
  • then place in the fridge for a few days

If you don’t want to put the pots in the fridge, you can also put them outside in the cold winter, for example on the balcony or terrace. Here, however, they should be protected against animals with a wire mesh. Likewise, care must be taken that they are not exposed to rain, otherwise the soil could become too wet.

Tip: If you roughen the hard chestnut skin of horse chestnuts a little beforehand and then put the chestnuts in water, it will be easier for the fruit to germinate.

plant seedlings

When the first small plants appear in the pots in spring, they can be planted in their new, pre-selected location. But planting in tubs in the first few years has also proven itself. Because the small trees are not hardy in the first few years. When planting, the following should be considered:

  • loose, acidic soil preferred
  • full sun location
  • mild climate in the first few years
  • fertilize young plants with compost
  • Protect seedlings from animals
  • place a small wire basket all around
  • protect young trees in the first winter
  • with plant fleece and mulch
  • place in a protected place in the bucket
Tip: If you already have a chestnut tree in your garden, simply leave the fallen fruit lying around. There one or the other seedling will grow all by itself. You can then transplant the seedlings in spring.

Pull seedling alternatively

The chestnuts can also be germinated in another way. This process is very simple and usually always works with healthy chestnuts. If children are part of the household, they can watch how a fruit grows into a small tree. This is done as follows:

  • Refrigerate chestnuts for several days
  • moisten a large piece of cotton
  • Put the chestnut in the middle
  • should be almost completely enclosed
  • put in a small bowl
  • put in a shady place
  • Cotton wool must always remain moist
  • after a short time roots will sprout
  • there are several small offshoots
  • Plant individually in small pots

These pots are placed outside in the shade as the seedlings would scorch in the sun. Here you can gradually get used to the climate.

Idea: The alternative way of growing the chestnut seedlings and later planting the small chestnut tree is also a good idea for a kindergarten or primary school. In this way, the children learn in a playful way how new life develops in the flora.

frequently asked Questions

No. Because the chestnut trees in the forests and parks are often no longer of a single variety. Because if there are several varieties next to each other, the genetic material can be mixed up during fertilization. If a chestnut tree grows out of this, it may not be the one you wanted to grow and want in the garden.

There is a very simple trick to do this. If you have collected the fruits in the forest, park or your own garden, then put them in a bowl of water. All the chestnuts that swim up are damaged, no longer germinable or even eaten empty. You can dispose of these.

As a rule, chestnut trees of any variety can be propagated and grown very well via the fruit. Because if the fruit is healthy and shows no signs of damage, then it should germinate reliably.

Of course its possible. The trees have adapted to the local climate, even in autumn and winter, and actually germinate best directly in the ground in the garden. However, it is not advisable, as many animals prefer the tasty fruits as food and it can therefore happen that no new seedlings emerge from the ground in spring because the chestnuts that were sown have all served as food.

Gibberellic acid is a plant growth hormone that can actually help with the germination of cold germs. This speeds up the germination time and increases the number of germinating fruits. The positive thing about this type of support is that you don’t have to refrigerate the pots of seeded fruit for days.

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