Seedling Care & Feeding


Baby seedlings need your help to get through the hot, dry months ahead!  Here’s what you can do to help your babies make it through the summer heat.

If possible, check on your seedlings at least once a week!
Keeping an eye on your seedlings is the critical first step in and helping your seedlings survive because helps you know what they need!

As long as the soil dries out between soakings, watering every 1-2 times each week should help most seedlings thrive in most places.  Water is vital to seedling survival, but it is important to make sure that the soil does not remain saturated!

Covering the area around your seedlings with a thick “blanket” of duff – pine needles, sticks, leaves, decomposed wood, etc – helps shade the soil and keeps it from dying out in the summer sun.
Each tree should have at least 2 inches of mulch covering the root area. 

Tahoe’s soils are quite nutrient-poor so, when used sparingly, common organic fertilizers will help your seedlings thrive!  Compost Tea or similar organic products mixed with water and applied as a liquid are recommended.  Feel free to ask your local nursery what they use, too!

Baby trees are tasty treats for rabbits, deer and other hungry critters.  If possible and appropriate, you can protect seedlings with wire mesh, clear plastic cylinders, large rocks or logs.

For FULL INSTRUCTIONS, please refer to our Planting Lesson!

Yay, Citizen Scientists!

We now have 15 new Citizen Scientists enrolled in our Sugar Pine Restoration Monitoring Project on!  They have reported planting 26 sites all around the Tahoe-Truckee area.  Most have posted photos of their happy little seedlings in their scenic new homes!

We welcome you to become a Citizen Scientist and join our project any time!  It’s easy, fun and free!  There are even free apps for iPhone and Android.

Germinating and Growing Seedlings At Home

Suzy Gardner of Truckee, CA has been a true sugar pine lover for many years.  She recently embarked on germinating and growing her own “sugar babies” from seed.  She did a fantastic job and was kind enough to share photos of her successful home germination project with us!

She outfitted a “grow box” with reflective foil, a heat mat and a lamp to provide a warm, “sunny” growing environment, and then placed another container with soil and seeds inside.  Her experiment worked and many of her seeds sprouted after just two weeks in the grow box!  She also tried sowing her seeds in different ways: in open soil, semi-contained, and contained in fabric grow bags.  All methods worked, but germinating in the grow bags is the best to avoid transplant shock to tender young sprouts.  The bags make it easy to gently move the babies to a larger pot without badly disturbing the tree’s very essential taproot!

Thanks, Suzy, for sharing the successful results and findings of your germination project with all of us! 

Thank You, May Donors!

Kim Jardine

Nicholas Wilby

Maggie Creamer

Barton Tretheway

Caitlin Jonkel

Kirill Novitchenko

Marilee Movius

4 thoughts on “Seedling Care & Feeding”

  1. I picked up a baggie of free seedlings that were offered this spring. I have 11 growing on my property, and they all seem to be doing well. How do I protect the sugar pine seedlings in the winter when snow is heavy on the ground?

    1. Hi Julie,
      Good question – thanks for asking! Actually, the snow itself acts as protection for the seedlings! They will be basically go to sleep and hibernate beneath the snow all winter – then when it melts in the spring they will get a natural watering, wake up and begin to grow again!
      Thanks for being such a good steward of your seedlings!

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