How to grow a conker tree

Updated July 20, 2017

Growing your own conker tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) -- commonly known as the horse chestnut -- is a fun and easy project and a great way to introduce children to the wonders of gardening. You can grow the tree in a container, transferring it to a larger pot when the roots appear through the drainage hole. Alternatively, plant it directly in your garden in a well-drained spot with at least part sun. The deciduous horse chestnut tree has leaves that grow up to 25 cm (10 inches) long and in spring produces white blossoms tinged with pink.

Collect some conkers from beneath mature horse chestnut trees in October, when they fall to the ground.

Break open the green, spiny outer shell of the chestnut to get at the seed inside. Wear gloves to protect your fingers.

Place some broken crockery in the bottom of the pots and fill the pots to within 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the top with potting soil. Plant the seed in a hole 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) deep and cover with soil.

Water the pot and keep it damp but not soaking. Overwinter the pot in the garden.

Transplant the seedling when it appears in the spring to a larger pot or directly in the soil where you want it to grow.


Squirrels love to eat horse chestnuts, so cover the top of the pot with netting to stop them from digging up the seeds.

Horse chestnut trees can grow as high as 30 metres (100 feet), so if you plant the seedling directly in the soil, make sure it will have enough space to grow in years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • 7.5 cm (3 inch) pots
  • Broken crockery
  • Potting soil
  • Netting
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About the Author

Ken Macdonald lives in London and has been a freelance editor and writer since 1999. He has written on topics including travel, food and gardening for UKTV, Expedia and “The Guardian” website. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English studies from Stirling University in Scotland.