How to Grow an Apple Tree from Seeds | Seed Germination

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Tastes good? And now you want to know how to grow an apple tree from seeds, your own apple trees, right? It’s certainly possible. Believe it or not, apple trees originally come from seed germination. However, the commercially grown ones we enjoy today are probably more a product of engineering than germinating from seed.

How to grow an apple tree from seeds?

You see, the issue with growing apples from pips is that you never know what you’ll get. You may be eating a wonderful Red Tasty when you decide to germinate the seeds, only to discover that the outcome is less sweet, less red, and perhaps even less delicious.

On the bright side, though, God could have blessed you with a brand new variety that becomes the ‘Apple of the Century’ with commercial growers clamoring for the patent rights. However, the chances are small that this will happen.

Seed Germination | How to Grow an Apple Tree from Seeds.
Apple seeds

How are apple trees grown?

Apple trees are perpetrated predominantly by grafting. New rootstock is embedded with a scion of the preferred cultivar, and the tree grows and produces from this point forward. This method of propagation almost always results in the same apple growth.

The rootstock which is produced by apple seed germination is just a dumb host. It can’t produce anything apart from what has been grafted onto it. Occasionally it will send up a few suckers, but if you were to grow these – keeping the roots intact – you would produce a very different apple that bears little resemblance to the grafted variety.

You might like to see this: How to Control Crabgrass Organically

So, you still want to germinate your own apple seeds

Sure. Let’s give it a try.

After you’ve done eating the core of your excellent apple, remove the seeds and dry them in a cool place until the outside is completely dry.

Then, put each one in a seedling tray and cover with 10mm (1/2 in) of well-draining potting mix. Cover the tray with plastic wrap or put it in a cold frame until the seeds germinate and sprout.

When the seedlings have two or more leaf levels, they may be potted out into larger pots to continue to develop until they’re ready to go into the ground.

Keep in mind that an apple tree purchased from a nursery typically takes 2-3 years to bear fruit. So, if you’re planting an apple tree from seed, expect to wait at least 6 years to see any benefits.

Where can I buy apple seeds?

Did you just miss the rest of the article? You can’t. And if someone is selling you apple seeds and guaranteeing the result, then make an appointment with your lawyer now.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy antique or heirloom apple cultivars. It just means that you can’t buy them as seeds.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Jodi

    This is one of those interesting facts I like to dredge up occasionally to impress/confuse others with. Of course, some of the most wonderful apples have come along as ‘chance seedlings’ in someone’s orchard or out in the farmer’s dooryard. There’s a streak of whimsy in me that always, always causes me to toss apple cores out of my car and onto roadsides, (well back, please, and in rural locales only. Maybe an apple tree will grow up where I flung that core, and maybe it will be wonderful and delicious. At the very least, some deer or rabbit will enjoy it.
    I bet many of the apple cultivars you enjoy in Australia are quite different from ours here in Atlantic Canada, although we do grow some cultivars that came from elsewhere, of course. Do you have Gravensteins there? They are now included in the SlowFood Ark of Taste–quite an acheivement for an apple brought to Nova Scotia from Europe about 150 years ago by Charles Ramage Prescott, the father of apple growing here in the Annapolis Valley.

  2. Donald M. J.

    This is an overall great blog for anyone who wants to enhance their gardening skills. I like how this article goes in depth about apple trees. I have learned a great deal. Keep up the great work.

  3. Jamie

    What a great article on growing apple trees from seeds. I know this is something I am going to try this spring actually. I have been saving all my apple seeds for the past month or so. I am going to give it a try, guess I’ll have to wait 6 years to see my results, but I have a lot of land so I will wait and see what happens.
    Great blog, will definitely help other people interested in gardening.

  4. Rick

    I started my 2 “baby” apple trees by putting seeds in a cup of water, only water, and waiting on roots to form. After the roots appeared I planted the seeds in 2 seperate coffee cups. Now 3 weeks into the farm, I have 2 plants that are almost 3 inches tall. I am waiting till I have about 5 inches of growth before I transplant them into larger pots.

  5. Aureli McCain

    How cold temperature needs to be for seeds to germinate in water??

  6. Tiffany M.

    i too started my apple seeds in just water! actually when i bit through to the core one of my seeds was already sprouting –just a little bit though. thats what inspired me to try to grow it. i’m not sure what the temp of the water has to be, but i did mine in cold water AND i stuck mine right against the window in a plastic baggie. it’s march in Michigan so it still frigid out side. we’ve had snow, frost, and now its finally getting to rain. i think the cold might help– michigan is known for it’s apples, and a lot of them are grown farther north of where i live.

  7. Rick S.

    All I did was put water from the tap in a cup then I sat the cup in my office at room temp. I have since brought one baby tree home with me and it isn’t doing too well. My office is in the city where there is cloronated water. I live in a rural area and have a well. When I started using the well water it seemed to cause the baby tree, I had brought home, not to grow much. The one I brought home I planted about 3 weeks before the one I left at the office but the one at the office is much taller and healthier looking. Anyone have any suggestions. Should I take them out of the potting soil and replant in soil? I am open for sound suggestions.

  8. Stacy

    I have just gotten germination on my seeds that my son and I harvested back in Jan. We put them in moist paper towels, inside a ziplock baggie and placed them in the refrigerator. We don’t care if we get tasty fruit or not, we’ll see if they get big enough to plant outside and our deer will love them either way.

  9. Kevin MacS

    3 years ago i sort of did this, and now I have a tree that is growing 1-2 feet per year, probably a but more than that ()its 7′ tall. It had gotten nailed with a weed wacker in its early life (i transfered it really early and didnt tell my family) but its still kicking even after the gypsie moths nested it last year and the Japanese Beatles before that,

  10. chicken princess

    This concept has always fascinated me. If you start with a tree that is grown on its own rootstock – and if you can control pollination – you should be able to know what type of tree the seed will produce in my estimation.
    But aside from that, I found this web site selling seeds for apples of an old American southern variety. What are these? Does anyone know?
    D2230 Old Homestead Apple Malus pumila var. Wrigthii
    These apple trees have been growing in the south for generations providing cooking and fresh eating apples. The apples have a sweet/tart flavor that is unique to their strain. Excellent for pies. A heavy bearing fruit tree.

  11. Andre de souza

    I live in Jamaica (West Indies), a tropical country which I have been told is not suitable for Apples of the Northern American variety. Back in high school around 1999 I germinated a Delicious Red seed from which a healthy plant grew. I then transplanted in a cool area of my yard but it grew too slow, I assume it was the lack of sunlight since it was planted in a shady area. Unfortunately a flood came through my yard and washed it away. It has crossed my mind so many times of what could have been. Today, I purchased two Fuji Apples and I am going to attempt the process one more time. I am not necessarily looking for fruit from the tree, but just to actually have a tree growing in my yard.
    I plan on purchasing some additional varieties such as Red Delicious and Gala and see how well they do. And if they end up germinating and growing into healthy plants I will then plant them side by side with the Fuji to increase chances of pollination in the future to produce a healthy fruit or possibly a new variety!
    I love the Fuji by the way, its my favorite and I am surprised by the abundance of seeds it contains, I got 8 seeds out of it, I must can get something working in 3 to 6 weeks hopefully.

  12. Charlene

    I would like to know how long it would take to germinate an entire apple just by leaving it on the ground. Surely this method would be more successful, given that the purpose of the flesh/fruit is to provide moisture and nutrients for the seeds…. One way to simulate the ‘natural’ way whilst still propagating the seeds in the ‘normal’ way, would be to use apple juice instead of water…. I have plenty of apples for experimentation, so I think I will try lt

  13. Andre de souza

    Well, my experiment is kinda paying off. I tried Ricks suggestion of placing seeds in a cup of water and one out of 3 sprouted! I am going to try another variety Apple. Thanks again

  14. Lynda

    I came home one day to find my son had planted some seeds from an apple he had at school. To my amazement 3 weeks later they are growing. As he got them from school I have no idea which variety they are but it is great when we look at them and see how much they have grown. My son is really pleased with himself but I think he will be disappointed when I tell him my research has found out he has to wait approx 6 yrs to see any fruit. I will be patient and see if we can get them as far as planting in the ground before I start counting down the years.

  15. Molly

    Linda – if your son’s young enough, perhaps you could substitute it for a grafted variety. Could save yourself a few years.

  16. Johnnie

    I too have a young son who is very interested in plants. And we also shared an apple (pink lady) only to find seeds that were already sprouting. We transferred them to a pot with top soil and a few slices of the fruit (using the logic that nature wanted it that way). 4 weeks later we have 3 inch trees. Only 4 of the 6 we planted are still around but that is better than i expected.
    It may take many years to taste the fruits of this labor, but for children (and adults) who love growing things, it’s a most wonderful excitement to see those mini trees come from a “store bought” apple!

  17. Lynda

    Nice idea Molly but he is 8 and well aware of how his seeds are growing, besides that would be cheating! We are looking forward to charting our seeds growth. My son is very proud as he now has 3 out of the 4 seeds growing. We will keep you all posted.

  18. Michelle

    I’m starting a preschool in 3 weeks and the second week of our curriculum is on apples (of course). I am going to have the children try different varieties of apples and then take the seeds and then plant them next class period. The problem is, I want to have already sprouted seeds ready for the next class period(classes are on tuesday and thursday). Yes, I know this is cheating, but I figured that the children will enjoy seeing their plants already popping out of the ground. Anyways, my question is, what is the fastest method of germinating the apple seeds? The paper towel method in the fridge in a baggie; the water method in a cup by the windowsill, the drying out and then planting in soil method, or is there another way??

  19. Molly

    Michelle – light and heat are the most important elements needed for germination. Combine this with some moisture and presto – you have success. Therefore, I would go with windowsill method.

  20. Fernando

    I live in costa rica and I’m trying apple seeds germination. I’m extracting from fuits.

  21. Andre de soza

    Success, success! I have two healthy Apple plants growing. Nursing and watching them grow everyday. The windowsill method is definitely the best way to go. The Fuji is growing so well and I have a Granny Smith next to it. I am going to try Gala and Golden Delicious and maybe even Red. I am not taking any chances though, probably not gonna transplant into bigger pots until around January 2009. It was a 1 in many chances scenario too, other seeds never grew in the water. So, the more you plant, the better the chances.
    It would be awesome if I get them growing into big trees. I am not necessarily looking for fruit, but just to have this variety of plant in my yard in ‘Jamaica ‘W.I.’.

  22. Carmen Molli

    NO NO NO – do not let the apple seed dry out – WHY WHY WHY would you lower your germination rate by doing this????????

  23. Lillian

    Great comments and good things too learn. I have 3 diffrent appletrees,here in the south of Sweden.It was the munks who grew the trees in their gardens , in Norway we have the beautiful flowering in May of the appletrees.The apple is from Asia and been in use for ages.It has been said that there are about 8000 sorts of apples today.My favorite are Norwegian applecake and varm vanillasås. The Prince apple are the best and the Aroma are very fine one also:-)

  24. Dan

    Thanks for the inspiration. Recently my parents sold a piece of property that had our tree fort on it. Well the tree fort was some 35 years ago. The fort was in a crabapple tree. I was able to get a buschal basket full of apples. Now with a little luck and lots of TLC I might be able to get a full orchard of trees and create more fun memories for my family. If not an orchard, hopefully one tree. Thank you for this blog.

  25. LynnAnn

    heya all, we are blessed to have 5 heirloom/heritage apple trees. I just went to my vermicompost bin and about 20 of the seeds have sprouted and look healthy!
    I don’t know the name of the variety, but it’s our favorite! I’m going to make an attempt at growing these seedlings. Wish me luck!
    I also have a Chestnut Crab that has the sweetest little apples ever…and it has a fungus. Can I graft a scion from it to one of the healthier trees? thanks

  26. Anonymous

    Just wanted to give an update. The Fuji Apple has grown so big that I have had to transplant it in a bigger pot. The roots were spreading so fast when I cut open the cup. I just hope everything goes well for it in the bigger pot.
    Up next is Granny Smith which is on a roll, I am gonna transplant that in a bigger pot Saturday. I also tried germinating two additional varieties, which are Golden Apple and Red Delicious. The Golden Apple doesn’t seem to be doing so well, but I see one of the Red Delicious seeds sprouting.
    I am trying to get as many going to increase my chances of pollination.

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