Introduction: Growing Apple Trees From Seed.

Picture of Growing Apple Trees From Seed.

I am going to tell you how to grow apple trees from seed. This is a lot more complicated than just throwing a few seeds in the ground, but with my help I can show you how.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed

 You will need:
An apple
Paper towel
plastic bag
Later On:
Grafting tape or Cling film
Grafting Wax or Masking tape

Step 2: Getting the Seeds

Picture of Getting the Seeds

 Now, Carefully cut down the middle of an apple and take out the seeds. You may need a few apples always remember on average only 30% of your seeds will germinate.

Step 3: Getting the Seeds to Germinate

Picture of Getting the Seeds to Germinate

 Now we need to get our or paper towel and wrap our seeds in them. Wet the paper towel and put it in the plastic bag. Make sure the plastic bag is sealed tight, and put it in the fridge. Your seeds should take about a month to germinate but check every few weeks and wet again if dry. Your seeds will start to have little white sprouts coming out of them soon enough thats when you know there ready for planting.

Step 4: Planting Seeds

Picture of Planting Seeds

 Once the seeds have germinated just drop them into any pots about 1 - 2" deep and cover in good compost. Then just watch them grow.

Step 5: The Most Important Step: Grafting

Picture of The Most Important Step: Grafting

 This step is vital or you apple trees will not produce any apples.
First wait until your apple trees are about 30-60 cm high.(Like in picture)  
Now there are many different methods of grafting apple trees but the one I use and find most helpful is the "Whip and Tongue" graft.

Use pictures to help with the graft. Pictures used on random pieces of wood for an example.
Firstly you get a piece of wood (Scion wood) from the variety of apple you want.
Then you cut down at an angle on wood.
Now make an identical cut on the apple tree.
Then cut downwards on the sliced wood. Do this on both tree and scion wood.
Then push together and wrap with cling film and then masking tape.

Step 6: Watch for Results Some Will Be Unsuccessful.

Picture of Watch for Results Some Will Be Unsuccessful.

 Watch closely for results if you graft is growing leaves then it is successful if it isn't it probably isn't successful, After 1-3 months take off the grafting tape.

Step 7: Watch Your Lovely Apple Tree Grow.

Picture of Watch Your Lovely Apple Tree Grow.

Thanks for reading my instructable.


getysburg (author)2017-04-25

Hey guys, something you can do to increase the speed of germination greatly is take a knife and slice frilly but gently down the edge close to the pointy end. This makes a weak spot that let's it break through the outside much faster. I did this with gala apple seeds and within two or three days they germinated, I waited on other four days for the ones that didn't germinate and they did nothing so I pitched em. Hope this helps.

ajackie28 (author)getysburg 2017-07-10

Hi, did you put them in the wet paper towel and in the fridge also?

getysburg (author)ajackie282017-10-05

Sorry this reply is so late, I did put them in a wet paper towel but not in the fridge. I put the paper towel in a plastic ice cream container then on top of a heat register.

BestU1 (author)getysburg 2017-11-12

This reply is even later, but I've recently germinated some apple seeds, and for some reason, it only took 2 days. I just used the most common way of germinating - Put seeds in wet soil, wrap with plastic wrap, poke holes, put in the toilet and done.

MazaliyaM (author)BestU12017-12-08

The toilet?

kofford (author)2017-10-01

I'm just wondering so when Johnny Appleseed started planting apple seeds across this Country I'm guessing he just planted it and left it. So how come a seed from a Macintosh wont make Macintosh apples or Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Ida Reds and so forth? Also I don't really understand the need for graphing. Why not just let Mother Nature do what she does best? Also by doing all this "complicated" things to the tree as it grows does it mean the scientists and the "lets see what this will do people" have ruined the natural evolution of the apple tree?

Apple saplings exhibit a trait known as extreme heterozygosity. This basically means that when you plant an apple tree from a seed, it most likely will look and taste very different from the parent tree. And most apple tree varieties taste terrible. When you find an apple tree that actually tastes good you have won the lottery. Johnny Apple seed grew apple trees from seed. But those were primarily for making cider.

mtnscrambler (author)2017-05-05

In regards to the Ambrosia apple seed seedling. It is almost guaranteed you will NOT get Ambrosia apples. You may or may not get apples period, and if you do the chances of them being crab apple type is high, but give it a go, I am. My seed produced tree is now espalaired, but has not yet produced fruit after 3 yrs growing. This can ONLY come from grafting a scion from an Ambrosia apple tree. These originated in the Okanogan region of BC Canada. I live in Washington & tried getting an Ambrosia tree, but they are controlled sales only to commercial orchards The orchard that has the patent on them won't even answer emails....poor PR!!

VikkiM9 (author)2017-04-19

Would these trees thrive in New England? Through the summer and into the fall?

getysburg (author)VikkiM92017-04-25

I believe so, mine just sprouted a couple days ago, but my plan is to grow them in pots for the first year just to be careful, I'm located in Indiana and we have weird flip flops in the weather lol. As long as you started them growing soon enough they should be durable enough to withstand it.

AdakoleF (author)2016-06-01

please I want to know the easiest way of making an Apple seeds germinate in a place like Africa?.

getysburg (author)AdakoleF2017-04-25

So I know this is a little old but I'll reply anyway. So something that you can do is when you have the seeds you can lightly scrape the outside of them or slice it with a knife, what this does is make a weak spot on the casing and allow it to germinate within a couple days or so. After that it took mine about two to three days for the first one to sprout up. I assume you know about planting them and all that. Something else I read is that once it has about the third set of leaves sprout, you should clip it off right where they sprouted this will make it grow outward instead of up. I hope this helps, you don't need paper or anything, it just makes it easier, you can do it in anything that holds moisture.

2Bfearless (author)AdakoleF2016-09-12

So, by the sounds of it, depending on the type of apples you want, you need 2 trees, and somewhere where the elevation causes the tree to frost every winter.

Some tree flowers cross pollinate and some are more limited which they pollinate, (other trees don't benefit from its pollen) at least 2 trees have to be able to cross pollinate and can pollinate triploid additional tree[s].

FYI - there are trees you can buy which have up to 6 kinds of apples. IDK, I bet these flowers pollinate each other.

KaraB11 (author)AdakoleF2016-08-13

I threw two seeds into a glass of water that I'm sprouting Avo pips in and they've both started to germinate :-D I got the seeds out of an Apple I bought which I didn't think had any chance but Mother Nature rocks! Now to see if they grow any further...

whynottry (author)AdakoleF2016-06-21

Not sure what's the temperature in your area, but most (if not all) apple trees will need a period of frost during the year to product apples.

Sometime I got lucky and had seed that already started germinating in the apple, but otherwise, I simply put the seed in the soil. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I planted a seed maybe 12 years ago and previous summer it produced a few apples for the first time (no grafting).

Damhoan398 (author)whynottry2016-07-16

Why not grafting still produce fruit? I think apple tree need an other kind of apple tree to cross-pollinated. I have 4 apple tree from seed, and hope they will produce fruit in the future:)

steveolver (author)2016-09-10

hello theres an OLD Honey Crisp in the yard its all hollowed out to about 4 inch thickness bark on only part of it. it has survived im guessing 80 yrs or so ( best apples imaginable) ive tried starting seeds no luck. this will help give my tree a legacy thankyou all very much:):)

getysburg (author)steveolver2017-04-25

You might try air layering to get a new tree that's genetically identical, from an original branch of course.

BreakDown2 (author)2016-09-30

How do i get Scion wood is it part of an apple tree and i just get it that way or is it a special peice of wood

getysburg (author)BreakDown22017-04-25

scion wood is just a small twig basically, but you harvest it just before spring or just before it stops freezing outside, and yes you have to have apple wood, though I believe you might be able to graft certain other fruit trees just like you can graft lime branches onto a lemon tree. If I'm wrong on any of this ya'll feel free to correct me.

captpaul (author)2017-01-08

I live in Bradenton, Fl and brought some Ambrosia apples from Walmart. I cut one for eating and took two seeds and planted them in cups of moist miracle grow potting soil. In two weeks I have one inch seedlings! I spritz them with miracle grow.

darklylit (author)2016-11-23

Apple trees do NOT produce "true to seed" That is, if you plant a
from a McIntosh apple, you will NOT get a McIntosh. It is generally
understood that the chances of getting a "delicious" apple from seed
approximately one in ten thousand (1:10,000), but think it's likely lower than that. Apples, like most things(including us) are
genetically diverse. If you want a McIntosh apple (or Spartan, Jonagold, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp etc) you have to find
someone with a McIntosh apple tree(or the variety you like), get some scion wood from that tree
and graft it onto your seedling. This is the ONLY way to get the variety of apple you prefer. A seedling WILL produce fruit, but never the variety that you planted the seed from. As well, it will take 10-12 years for that tree to mature enough to bear fruit and it likely will not be terribly good fruit...but you never know. I grew my first tree from seed 12 years ago and it produces pretty good, though not exceptional, apples.

BrendaS69 (author)2016-01-17

Seems easy enough I want a McAntoish apple

darklylit (author)BrendaS692016-11-23

Apple trees do NOT produce "true to seed" That is, if you plant a seed
from a McIntosh apple, you will NOT get a McIntosh. It is generally understood that the chances of getting a "delicious" apple from seed are
approximately one in ten thousand (1:10,000), but think it's probably a
bit lower than that. Apples, like most things(including us) are genetically diverse. If you want a McIntosh apple, you will have to find someone with a McIntosh apple tree, get some scion wood from that tree and graft it onto your seedling. Good luck!

GuardianE (author)2016-11-02

Can I just not use a scion and graft a tree into my apple seedling? I literally have only one seedling, found from an apple that had a seed already sprouting inside, and I don't have the money nor the pots to grow another apple seedling. Also, I mean, that's sort of silly, I mean, one thing is wanting to grow a variety of apple, another is wanting to grow an apple tree. I want to do the latter, I'm a gardener, not a fruit cultivator, my project is to see if I can make the apple seedling become a tree.

Also, I have another question, related to an issue I've noticed on my tree. You see, my apple tree was fine and dandy until I took it outside, where it started having some spots that I thought it was cedar apple rust, so I started treating for it with some home remedies (since I have no money for buying anything), and I thought it was sort of okay. But then, I transplanted it to a new pot, because it was obviously too large for the little ceramic pot it was in, and I used soil from a local forest I live nearby, that I knew from the past to be very rich, as it's a forest bordering a wetland, and I had used this soil to supplement my flower garden and even my vegetable garden on the past, it's very nice, a bit too easy to make it compacted, but otherwise, not bad at all, the patch I got from had even some yellow soil, which I read up online that it means it's a soil high in iron oxides. Also, fearing that the soil might be lacking nitrogen, I even watered the tree with MiracleGro once after transplanting it. But the older leaves started turning this shade of dark brown, from the borders in, in addition to the spots I thought that was cedar apple rust, and are turning sort of crispy. I took it into my house, because I wanted to stop the rust from spreading, clipped off the leaves that were affected, and then left it on a eastern window (we don't have southern facing windows here), and it keeps on making new growth, but yet, the older growth grows rusty spots and starts turning dark, dark brown from the edges in, following the veins. What is going on? Why is my apple seedling acting like that?

UchihaItachiSama (author)2016-07-22

Can i use the same tree to take scion wood?
Or i need anothEr one?
Thank you.

J.j.K1 (author)UchihaItachiSama2016-10-19

It takes 2 different trees to make babies. Just like people :)

lyndaf7 (author)2016-04-21

I didnt have to do all this fancy stuff in order to get the sproutings. Just go to your nearest walmart or garden atore and get some fertiized soil and a pot, moiaten the soil and take an apple, cut it in half, ge two seeds and pace them together ( you may also do this with two different kinds of apples its called a hybrid) if you place them sde by side they reproduce and that will give you a bettwr chance of having fruit on your tree. Any way , plant your seeds and just water it once a week or make sure tue soil is moist by sticking your finger close to the side of the plant and go down into the soil. Thata really all you need to do not any of this fancy stuff. Good luck guys

DanielK302 (author)lyndaf72016-10-05

That's what I'm going to do. When apples fall off of a tree in nature, it lands on the ground,some are eaten by Animals and the seeds get deposited later because they survive the digestive process,the others just rot into the ground and grow on their own so,I agree that you shouldn't have to do a lot of fancy stuff so,thank you for your suggestion.

pilipinas urbano (author)2016-04-19

do you think it will be successful in the Philippines?

yes! i was able to grow 2 varieties of apple (fuji and darwin apple variety). I germinated the seeds by wrapping it a moist paper towel and put it in a jar with lid and let it stay inside the refrigerator for about 3 weeks. I transferred the sprouted seeds in a container and now it's growing taller and taller can visit my fb to see the pictures.

GordonS31 (author)2016-06-24

wtf? so you don't get apples to grow from a seed from an apple? won't the seed from the apple you want to grow create the tree????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

L_Niranjan (author)2016-05-11

Can you please let me know followings things?

1. Temperature

2. Soil Type

3. Which kind of fertilizer can we use to.


lyndaf7 (author)2016-04-21

My apple sproutlings

lyndaf7 (author)2016-04-21

My daughter threw a seed in my pot with my red lion and i didnt onow until it sprouted so i transplanted tht sprout when it got a bit bigger into its own little contaner ( a water bottle cut a little lower than the middle) with treated oil and it is still growing and fast so i took abfew more seeds and planted thwm in another pot with fresh clean soild and i now have two sprouta. It takes a couple of weeks but if you keep the soil moist, you will have apple sprouts soon enough. Dont water everybday maybe just once a week.

IEclipsor (author)2016-03-13

Hey I Realised Something If You Want To Wet You Cant Just Put It Under The Tap As That Can Break Your Paper Towel So I Wet A Towel And Wrapped The Paper Towel With The Towel... Its Logical Really...

agaribaldi (author)2016-03-12

Sounds Awesome! Thanks for Sharing your Info on how to Start an Apple Tree from Seeds. Almost all my Apple Seeds Sprouted already so, this is my First Time I gonna Plant an Apple Tree. So, Wish me Luck :))

20ckler (author)2016-03-06

It works!!

haydeemateo68 (author)2016-01-30

I wanted made it

skillcult (author)2015-12-17

There are a lot of misconceptions and errors in this thread, and some good stuff too. The article is really about growing apple root stock from seeds in order to graft on a variety that you like, such as pink lady, Wickson, etc...... Nothing wrong with that. People used to do this all the time. If these seeds were allowed to grow out and produce fruit instead of grafting them to another variety, each one would produce a unique new variety of apple, which may or may not be good and may or may not resemble the original parent.

Most of what you read or hear about growing new varieties from seed is very negative. Michael Pollan in particular has done a great disservice by blugeoning home the message in his book Botany of Desire that it is almost impossible to grow really good apples from seed . The experience of many people disproves that notion though. For instance, my friend Freddy Menge has been growing seedlings and says that more of the apples he grows from seed are worth eating than not... and he's a picky apple collector. My very first open pollinated apple seedling to fruit is quite promising and I happily ate all of them. I named it BITE ME! for all the people that say it can't be done. I have over 100 intentionally cross pollinated seedlings growing and more coming this year. If you want to know more about growing apples from seed intentionally to produce new varieties, I'm producing a youtube video series that follows my efforts and shows how I do everything. I hope to start getting fruit from those this year.

In short, I think more people should be growing fruit from seed and a little intention in selection of parents can probably go a long way toward skewing results in our favor.

Apple Breeding video playlist:

Bite me!

Growingisfun (author)skillcult2016-01-16

I live in Calgary , Alberta I have 2 seedlings which if they come back this spring will have survived 3 winters 1 is putting on growth 1 which mostly dies back each year (both with protection) 2 more on their 2 winter , and 2 more on their first winter. Fun experiment.

Growingisfun (author)skillcult2016-01-16

I think you should read or perhaps reread Michael Pollans' book Botany of Desire he actually credits John Chapman or people like him with spreading and nurturing apple seeds which have led to most known American varieties.Every garden/Hort/herbal/plant book that I have read that talks about planting seeds mentions 1in 50000 apple seeds will produce an apple as good as either parent. Pollan does not walk that line in his book.As a side note it I have spent a lot of time looking for someone that has actually run the experiment. Gathering 50,000 apple seeds grown and collected under the same growing conditions then planted and germinated under the same conditions and then waited the 3-15 years for the trees to fruit etc,etc. Does anyone actually have that much time, money and land to perform this experiment? I would love to see the results.

fresnojimmy (author)2015-02-20

Trying to remain positive and constructive: There are so many wrong pieces of information on this thread that no one has corrected. First of all,

1. A "honeycrisp" apple seed does not grow a tree that will produce "honeycrisp" apples. Apple seeds do not grow true to their cultivars, which are usually propagated by live tissue. Therefore, it would be unnecessary to grow a "honeycrisp" from seed to graft it onto any other rootstock. Secondly, there is a PATENT on honeycrisp apples, and most other recently commercially developed, that makes it illegal to use them as scion wood!

2. This means that the seeds from the prized 51 year old Macintosh may grow seedlings that revert back to any combination of its ancestors that were cross-bred to produce a "Macintosh" apple. It's fine as rootstock, but no reason to use it as scion wood.

3. "Lets get one thing straight, the procedure of grafting is used to stunt the growth of the scion?"

Grafting is not done to "stunt the growth" or "dwarf" the resulting tree, unless you are grafting onto specially-bred rootstock for this purpose that you have to buy. Grafting any apple onto a seedling-grown rootstock will produce a full size (think 20 feet mature) tree.

Growingisfun (author)fresnojimmy2016-01-16

It should be interesting to know that however unlikely you CAN create a new variety of hardy or dwarfing root stock from planting a seed just like you can a new apple. The very first rootstocks were found by someone noticing that trees of the same age were definately smaller or some other characteristic. Had nothing to do with magic or fairys. So give it a try. Other that perhaps some "lab" work pretty much every known variety of fruit/ rootstock originated from a seed .

mysandyrun (author)2015-11-01

I have some black twig apples that I have saved out the seeds. I'm letting them dry in a cup in my window. When do I wet with towel and refrigerate?

Damhoan398 (author)2015-10-22

Yes, I live in hot climate country, though still have 4 season in a year but summer last longer than winter. I know there are some kind of apple tree for hot climate, but it's not easy for me to buy online. So I decide to wait.

Damhoan398 (author)2015-10-22

Thanks for your information that I need to know. I read and heard about apple tree from seed but nobody say that it will bear fruit, they said apple tree from seed need to be grafted onto other that already produced fruit. And apple tree can't pollinate itseft, so need an other to cross pollinate. In my country, nobody plant apple tree. So I have to wait my apple tree and hope it will bloom and bear fruit. I know it will take a long time but I will wait:))

Damhoan398 (author)2015-10-21

So can an apple tree planted from seed bear fruit without grafting to an other or need to be grafted to an other? I have some apples grow from seed. Should I graft them each other?

Chief268 (author)2015-06-01

is it possible to transport a scion from one country to a next? will it die? sorry if i sound like a novice but i am from the caribbean and on my island we dont have apple its a first time venture. i have seeds i got from some apples at the local supermarket but no other trees to obtain a scion from.

DarrenG4 (author)Chief2682015-10-08

Pink Lady is good for hot climates (and cold too). Try those seeds first, but you won't know if the parent was suitable for hot climate, may not do so well. If you can order a pink lady tree, that would be better.

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