American chestnut seedlings should be planted in areas that have a similar climate and soil type as the mother tree. More than one tree is needed in order to produce viable nuts. They are best planted in the spring after a winter in storage.
- Store nuts for spring planting
Gather nuts in the fall, and avoid letting them dry out or become soggy over the winter. They should not be allowed to freeze or remain in temperatures over 40 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time. Nuts can be stored in sand, sawdust, peat moss, sphagnum or plastic with holes. They can be kept in a mouse-proof container or in the refrigerator. Chestnuts usually begin sprouting in late winter.
- Start seedlings in a protected setting
Nuts should be first planted in a garden, seed bed or pots to protect them from predators, such as chipmunks, birds, mice and squirrels. Plant with the roots or flat side down. Bury seeds about an inch deep.
- Transplant to a permanent site
When the seedling is about 8 inches high or 1 year old, it can be moved to its permanent location. Remove the old nut shell before planting outside. Chestnuts prefer well-drained, moist conditions. Sandy, gravelly or loamy mixtures are best. Deep soil encourages good growth.