How to Grow Apple Trees From Seed

planting apple tree from seed

Apple seeds are a treasure waiting to be discovered. While most apple trees are propagated through grafting, growing apple trees from seed can be a rewarding and exciting experience. Plus, seedling trees often exhibit more vigor and resilience than their grafted counterparts. In this article, we’ll explore the process of growing apple trees from seed and uncover the magic of nature’s lottery.

The Joy of Growing Apple Trees from Seed

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How to Grow Apple Trees From Seed

One may wonder why apple trees are not commonly grown from seeds. The main reason is that apple seeds do not produce identical offspring. Each seedling tree inherits its unique flavor and characteristics from its parents, making every apple tree a delightful surprise. However, this unpredictability goes hand in hand with the thrill of discovering new apple varieties.

In the past, settlers carried apple seeds with them, resulting in seedling orchards across the Northeast. These orchards eventually gave birth to many beloved heirloom apple varieties. Some apples were destined for cider-making, while others pleased the palate as direct snacks. By planting apple seeds from favorite varieties, you too can be a part of this beautiful tradition.

Preparing Apple Seeds for Planting

Before planting apple seeds, it’s essential to provide them with a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. In nature, this happens naturally over the winter. However, since not all environments experience consistently cold winters, you can create an artificial “winter” by stratifying the seeds in your refrigerator.

To do this, place the apple seeds in a moist paper towel, then seal them in a plastic bag, leaving a small opening for air exchange. Keep the bag in the back of your refrigerator for at least six weeks, ensuring the towel remains moist. After this period, some seeds may have already begun to sprout.

How to Grow Apple Trees From Seed

Planting Apple Seeds

After cold stratification, it’s time to plant your apple seeds. You can choose to direct seed them outdoors after the last spring frost, but due to their low germination rate and the risk of predation, it’s advisable to start them in pots. Recycled one-gallon nursery pots filled with seed-starting potting mix provide an ideal environment for germination. Keep the soil warm and moist, similar to how you would care for tomato seedlings.

The Germination Process

After six weeks of cold stratification, apple seeds will germinate relatively quickly. Some seeds may already have begun sprouting on the paper towel in the refrigerator. Assuming the soil temperature reaches around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the seeds should emerge from the soil within one to two weeks. Continue tending to the seedlings in pots until they reach a height of at least 4-6 inches.

Transplanting Apple Seedlings

Once the threat of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to transplant your apple seedlings into the ground. Seedling apples, not limited by dwarfing rootstock like grafted trees, can grow to their full potential. However, keep in mind that they will require ample space, as they tend to grow large. Pruning and staking can help manage their size and ensure healthy growth.

The Journey to Fruitfulness

Contrary to what one might assume, apple seedlings can bear fruit in a similar timeframe to expensive grafted nursery trees. After approximately eight years, nursery-bought apple trees typically begin fruiting. However, seedling trees have the advantage of not experiencing the stress of pot confinement. With proper care and nurturing, your seedling apple trees may surprise you with their early fruiting.

A World of Possibilities

Apples are not the only perennial plants you can grow from seed. If you have a green thumb and a love for experimentation, consider venturing into growing other plants from seed. Whether it’s lemons, strawberries, rhubarb, or asparagus, the possibilities are endless. Unleash your gardening prowess and discover the joy of growing your own plants from scratch.

How to Grow Apple Trees From Seed

Remember, growing apple trees from seed is not only about the destination but also the journey. Each seed holds the potential to create a unique and remarkable apple variety. So, why not embrace the excitement and try your hand at growing apple trees from seed? Visit Tips Tree Planting for more expert gardening advice and tips. Happy planting!

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