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How Do You Grow Apple Trees From Seeds?

Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.

Did you know that you can plant any apple seed and grow a seedling? Learn how!

Did you know that you can plant any apple seed and grow a seedling? Learn how!

You Can Grow an Apple Tree From Any Apple Seed

That’s right, you can use any old apple to grow a tree—okay, not one that's so old that its skin is shrivelled. You can use any apple from the grocery store, no matter the variety, but it must still be edible.

Before we begin, you must also know that most apple trees that are grown from seed will never produce true. In other words, if you love those sour Granny Smiths and you plant their seeds, the trees that grow from those seeds are more likely to give you crabapples than Granny Smiths.

What Is a Crabapple?

A crabapple is a very interesting thing! This is essentially the term for a wild apple. They are generally smaller than “pure” varieties. A crabapple is perfectly safe to eat and can be used in recipes.

How to Remove Apple Seeds

Sometimes the process is simple, sometimes it’s not. Let’s hope that you do not get an apple that fights you when you try to remove the seeds! Alright, bad jokes aside—how do you extract the apple seeds safely?

Step-by-Step Instructions for Removing Seeds

  1. Take a sharp knife and cut the apple in half. Be careful not to cut your fingers.
  2. Sometimes, cutting the apple in half will destroy a seed or two. But more often than not, the seeds will be unharmed. Use the knife’s tip to remove them.
  3. Cut the core from both halves.
  4. Search the core halves for more seeds by breaking them apart with your hands.
  5. To improve your chances of getting intact seeds, repeat these steps with two or three apples.
To remove the seeds, start by cutting the apple in half.

To remove the seeds, start by cutting the apple in half.

How to Prepare Your Apple Seeds

You can certainly stick your seeds in the ground and wait for them to grow. But most apple seeds need a little help to germinate.

You can do this by placing them in wet tissue, place the tissue in a container, and placing the container in the fridge. Check on the seeds every day that they do not dry out. This is called stratification, a process that mimics the cold and moist dormancy phase of some seeds. A lot of people stratify other types of seeds using soil but in the case of apple seeds, tissue is best.

Can I Try Soil Stratification for Apple Seeds?

Sure. The main reason for using tissue is to save space. If you want to use soil stratification for your apple seeds, be prepared to sacrifice some space in your fridge! A lot of websites might advise you to chuck soil in a plastic baggie and then add the seeds.

There is one problem with this.

The survival rate of seedlings drops when they have to be transplanted from a communal seed bag to their own individual pots. It’s best to fill a seed tray with soil and add one or two seeds per cup. When your seeds germinate, you can keep the seedlings in the tray until they are very strong. This will increase your seedling survival rate by a huge margin, if not 100 percent.

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Placing them in wet tissue gives you the opportunity to watch for the first sign of germination. Once you see the shells break or the first tiny root appear, it’s time to plant them in a seed tray. Germination can happen as quickly as 7 days or several weeks.

How to Plant Your Seeds in a Tray

This is fairly easy and you’ve probably already planted seeds in a tray before! But if this is your first time trying to grow apple seeds, you might be wondering what their needs are. How deep do you need to plant them? Any specific position? Which season?

The good news is that apple seeds are not fussy. If you have warm weather or a sunny windowsill, then you can grow them year-round. To plant them, you can use the back of a pencil to push a hole roughly half a centimetre deep, place the seed flat on its side and cover it with soil. You can plant one to two apple seeds per bucket. So, if you have a seed tray with 6 buckets, you should be able to accommodate between 6 and 12 seeds.

How to Care for the Seeds

After planting the apple seeds, take a bowl of water and a spoon. Remember, the seeds are planted in fairly shallow holes. Pouring water might wash them to the surface. Scoop some water from the bowl and gently tip a spoonful against the soil’s surface.

Right now, it’s a waiting game. Apple seeds can germinate after 1 or 2 weeks of planting. Here are the best things you can do while you wait for the first apples to show!

Pre-Germination Care Tips

  • Keep the soil moist but not soaked.
  • Place the tray in a sunny area.
  • Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely.
We have a sprout!

We have a sprout!

When Do Apple Seedlings Germinate?

I can only give you a rough estimate based on personal experience. I have noticed that a batch does not germinate uniformly. Those seedlings come up when they feel like it! Here is a chart I kept on a batch of about 21 seeds and when they first pushed through the soil as baby apple trees.

Sprouting Log

  • Day 9: The first seedling showed up.
  • Day 12: Two more.
  • Day 13: Fourth seedling.
  • Day 15: Fifth.
  • Day 18: Two more.
  • Day 19: Two more.
  • Day 20: Two more.

As you can see, by the time some of the seedlings were “newborn,” the oldest seedling was already 11 days old. Your seeds might germinate differently but this timeline should give you a rough idea of what to expect.

How to Care for Apple Seedlings

The care for young apples is pretty straightforward. Make sure that you keep them in well-drained pots, that they get plenty of sunlight but not so much that they wilt. They also tend to be thirsty so water them as soon as the soil seems dry. You’ll notice that apple seedlings are fast-growing and robust, only needing you to give them a drink now and again!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Jana Louise Smit

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