Instructables
Picture of Growing Apple trees from seed.
 Hello.
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.
 
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Step 1: Materials needed

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



Step 2: Getting the seeds

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 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

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 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

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 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

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 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.
Done.
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If you are grafting scion wood to root stock, does it matter what species the root stock is? For example, could I graft onto an established pear tree?

Lets get one thing straight, the procedure of grafting is used to stunt the growth of the scion, it does not alter the DNA !. That means that your tree will have half the genes of the original variety, and half of the pollinator, NONE of the root stock. This myth seems to come up time after time. Some varieties of apple will self pollinate too. As to what you get, who knows, but at the end of the day, all varieties came from seeds in the beginning. Grafting was, and is, the only way to ensure that you get copies of the same tree, proof for those who want it, that the grafting does not affect the fruit.

Who knows, you may get a better fruit than the original, that's the fun part.

KarlB1 month ago

Have I misunderstood... I propagate my seeds - they grow - and then I lop the top off and simply use the root-stock from my dearly beloved seed?! In which case I'd be better off using a fast-growing root-stock from some other species and grafting my desired apple variety to that? Won't my seedling eventually blossom and then fruit left alone? If not can you tell me why please? Thanks!

aliroussel1 month ago

Cross pollination is required for a tree to produce fruit. The fruit is a direct result of its flowers being exposed to the pollen of another apple tree.

bjones73256 months ago

Hello there, I have around ten apple trees that bear fruit. When you plant an apple seed gotten from the food market apples, keep in mind that most likely the apples you are eating are most likely grafted onto the tree itself. For example, a Red Gala apple tree may have both a Golden Delicious and Granny Smith growing on it at once. When you graft a tree, only that branch is "taken over", not the whole tree. But the tree's DNA makes the apples have Red Gala seeds in them despite the grafted branch. So, you may be eating a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apple but the seeds are really Red Gala. And about the apple tree turning into a crab-apple... These two trees are part of the same genus, which means that they can reproduce together. Keep in mind that pollen is sort of like sperm and blooms are sort of like the female egg(s). A tree cannot bear fruit unless it's pollinated by either human or insect. Bees are the most common pollinators. Bees land on flowers to drink their nectar, which is then fed to the queen bee. Pollen, produced by the "male" stamen, is accidentally accumulated onto their legs, which when the bee lands on the flower, some of the pollen is transferred to the flowers' "female" stigma which then in return will bear fruit. So, crab-apple pollen CAN be transferred to a regular apple tree be accident in nature. Crab-apples are wild trees that grow in nature so an apple tree planted by a human in the wild will most likely become a crab-apple unless multiple domestic apple trees are planted together. So, if you plant an apple tree, be sure to plant multiples!

The DNA in the branch that bears the fruit will be the DNA in the flowers, it will make up half of the seed in the apple. The DNA in the trunk of the tree does not affect the DNA of the apples, it affects how the trunk feeds the branch with the apples, how hardy it is, will it cause the tree to be a dwarf because it affects the growth of the tree itself. Your Granny Smith apple will have half the DNA of the Granny Smith apple tree and half of whatever it was pollinated from. If it is pollinated by a crab apple, the new tree will have half the genetics of the crab apple. If it is pollinated by a Granny Smith, it won't be exactly the Granny Smith you started from, as the genes will be half of the original trees... but not necessarily the same half, there will be some mixture. To have exactly a Granny Smith, you must clone or graft the original wood for your fruiting branches.

A tree planted in the woods will be whatever its genes dictate, it's offspring will likely be half crab apples though.

"But the tree's DNA makes the apples have Red Gala seeds in them despite the grafted branch" I'm pretty sure you cannot transfer DNA through the branch from the root stock. The resulting seeds are part the grafted stock and part the contributing apple. The grafted stock is what produces the bud, and therefore the flower.

Trees grown for fruit production are entirely grafted from a particular apple; almost like cloning.

fg11 year ago
About 4 weeks ago my 5 year old daughter ate an apple, she usually eats the whole lot but this time decided to put aside 2 seeds. She asked me to plant them in a pot with compost so i did (not thinking they would grow). Now we have 2 apple plants growing on our kitchen windowsill, there about 3 inches tall! They are Granny Smith apple seeds, so will it produce granny smith apples or a whole new breed? I did try this with cherry stones too but had no luck so they are in the fridge cooling ready to be planted in 10 weeks
Mikagussler fg14 months ago

Granny Smith apples, or Malus domestica, is a self-fertile plant, which means it doesn't need another type of tree to germinate. Therefor, unless you have another variety of apple, you will undeniably get Granny Smith apples. If you wish, however, to grow a new variety try planting your Granny Smith apples close to one of the varieties listed at this website, it includes apples this company offers and ones they do not offer. http://www.orangepippintrees.com/pollinationchecker.aspx?v=1129 Also, your Granny Smith is a Group 3 apple, which means it is harvestable in late autumn. Hope this was helpful and informative!

RoBear613 fg14 months ago

Your trees, like you, are a mix of genetics; so what you'll get is anybody's guess. It takes generations of selective breeding to get the store bought varieties. In order to maintain consistency, production trees are grafted from a mother tree onto "hardy" root stock; disease and pest resistant.

AltLife4 months ago

Last fall we took all the over rip bruised and deer eaten apples from our ancient tree and crammed them into the remaining stump of a long dead brother of the tree. Stomped on them a few times and threw some grass clippings on top

This spring we had about 20 little seedlings in the stump. We've thinned them to 1 now it's doing fine.

sbhavsar37 months ago

I have sowed directly in soil (without making them to sprout) around 12 seeds of an apple in this January, out of which 2 have bear leaves and they are about 2" tall. Can I expect fruits from them without any grafting? If yes when?

You may be able to get fruit, but don't expect it to be like the fruit you bought. It is a hybrid, like you, of the two apples. It takes many years for a tree to reach fruiting maturity.

Where does one obtain desirable scion wood?

vanart051 year ago
I live in Pa. It is cold in the winter time. My apple tree is in the pot and about 5 inches tall. should I bring the pot inside during winter time?
Views from someone who had an internship breeding apples:

1. There is fundamental misunderstanding, in this article, of how apples are bred and grown.
2. Red Delicious originated from one seed, Honeycrisp originated from one seed, all varieties of apples you find in the store, originate from one seed. They are then cloned through grafting. Planting a Honeycrisp seed will not produce a Honey Crisp apple. Only by grafting (cloning) a piece of a Honeycrisp tree, can you get another Honeycrisp apple tree. Planting apple seeds will produce new, random, and unique apple trees.*
3. A good reason to graft your apple tree would be to put it on dwarf root stock. These are specially bred trees, grown for their roots. These roots are hardy, will produce shorter trees, and produce fruit earlier. This root stock is available online if you are interested.
4. Grafting one apple seedling onto another apple seedling is pointless. All you are doing is swapping one mystery apple tree onto the roots of another mystery apple tree. The characteristic of apple that the tree will produce is determined by genetics of the top graft, which is determined at the time of pollination of the seed. The act of grafting doesn't change the grafts genetics.
5. While your understanding of this is incorrect, your skill in grafting is excellent. Apple root stock is cheap, and grafting material is usually free if you know someone who has a tree. This is a good way to plant an orchard for almost free.
* I spent an internship working at the UofMinnesota apple breeding center (the same one that produced Honeycrisp), we would start by making crosses, then plant over a thousand seeds, we would then let nature kill most (test for cold hardiness and disease), the survivors would be grafted onto root stock. We would go through the fruit that these seeds produced, most where discarded because of small fruit size, poor fruit quality, bad flavor, ect. But a very few would stand out and be the next big apple for the market.
ok then so does all the crossbreeding mess with the seeds germination rates, anyhow id very much like to know. im not into grafting but am into cuttings.

i don't know if anyone else noticed but i have noticed that alot of store bought
apples and stuff like that their seeds do not grow they grow well in the fruit in all
but are useless.
The apples aren't actually being crossbred per se. The word crossbred has several different definitions in botany, it can get confusing at times. All the apples are Malus domestica so all the breeding that is taking place is within the species, just as it would in nature. The reason for low germination is different.

The author was kind of on the right track with germinating the seeds in the fridge. Certain plants, apples included, greatly benefit from a process called cold stratification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratification_(botany) . That is, they undergo winter like conditions for sometimes months before germination. That should greatly increase seed germination.

Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan does a pretty good job of explaining the issue of breeding apples. FYI.
rickharris4 years ago
Because pollination is random most apple seeds won't produce the original apple, often a crab apple results which is inedible.

The majority of grafted apples are grafted on to crab apple root stock as this is usually a more vigorous grower. Often modern apples can be found grafted onto dwarf root stock to limit the eventual height of the tree.

Growing apples is fun, drinking cider is much more fun!!


Crab apples are delicious!! They are, indeed, edible. They make wonderful pies, and other desserts, and are yummy just to chew on. :)
Dear Bown,

I would like to ask you where can i buy apple seed to grow, can you introduce me some seller or supply.

Thanks.
Rachna
walk around and find a apple tree look for one that you like or
would like to grow and thats were you'll get an apple to grow
I guess a store that sells trees and shrubs? Or a gardening supplier.

I have never bought apple seeds before, so I am not really sure, sorry.

Personally I have always just planted seeds from apples I have bought and have hoped for the best. Being from Newfoundland many of the apples that I buy are local the seeds always seem to grow nice trees. Also, you do not need to graft your tree to grow edible fruit, none of my trees have been grafted and almost all of them have regular apples.
mike1271 year ago
I'd like to tell how i plant mine when its not winter i take a few apple or
other seeds and place them in the freezer for a few hours then put them in
dirt then in a few days they come up my catnip came up in 2 days.
turbogtx1 year ago
should the part growing out of the seed be out of the earth or underneath?
turbogtx1 year ago
i did put 20 seed in the wet paper and 19 of them germinated so for me 95% did germinated i just planted them
You can also do cross grafting when the tree gets large. Try and graft a pecan, or an orange branch to one of it's many branches. You can wrap the base of the graft in plastic to keep out infection...
I took seeds from the store produce and let them germinate...in 5 days they had sprouted.. I planted them in a pot and one week later they have already started to come out of the dirt and grow. They seem to be happy and healthy..does anyone know how to make them more sturdy when the trunk starts to come in?
alkemy1 year ago
When you plant an apple tree from seed, it will not share the characteristics of the parent. IOW, if you plant a honeycrisp, you will not get a honeycrisp. This is why apple trees are grafted. But, you will get some kind of apple, it'll just be a mystery apple, which is fun.
The caution that starting seed from grocery-store fruit is usually applied to hybridized vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers and the like. These come from plants that are crosses between two different strains to give a combination of desirable traits. These traits may be re-shuffled in the resulting seeds, giving a random assortment of traits in saved seed.

Fruit trees are similarly bred and hybridized, but I do not know if they are similarly genetically unstable. When a good combination of traits is achieved in a fruit tree, it is propagated by cuttings, so all of the trees produced are a clone. In addition fruit trees are bred for fruiting characteristics, but their hardiness and vigor is not as carefully selected. Instead, a strain of fruit tree that is known for its vigor is used as a grafting rootstock. Cuttings are grafted to the rootstock to confer strength to the resulting tree.

Seed-grown fruit trees may not be as vigorous or hardy as grafted trees from a nursery, although they may produce good fruit.
Just a note:
Choosing seeds of organically grown apples from your farmers markets over these seeds will give you multiple advantageous and prevent damages to your environment;
1. Seeds of locally grown plants have already adapted for the climate, and insect predators and will in time become trees with these traits in their DNA, and the DNA of their offspring - evolving with each cycle to be more hearty and more productive (upon tending).
2. Plants are not only threatened in their native environments by bacteria, fungus, insects, mammals and climate, but also by pathogens (think of the flu, a pathogen amongst humans) and unlike all the others, once some pathogens are introduced in your soil, they virulently spread, replicate and evolve to predate upon area vegetation within that family (for apples it would be roses, raspberries) and can never be removed from your soil, and will only continue to worsen - if you move the tree, you move the pathogen, and it will be in that soil forever.

P.S.: Rule of thumb is, the planting depth of a seed is double it's own diameter.
aussiejbl2 years ago
I don't understand this step
bwilliams-13 years ago
I do not understand what the white plastic bag does in the step 3 photos. Can you explain please? Thank you. Nice tutorial.
I believe the bag is to hold in the moisture. Otherwise your seeds are just sitting on a dry towel and will never germinate.
So... Can I use a graph off of one of my other saplings? Or does it have to be from a full grown fruit bearing tree??
Soulsbane2 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
I was wondering, how long does it take the apple tree to grow to 30-60 cm?
To be honest, I don't care if my apple seed grows to a crab apple tree. I would be just happy that I grew a tree. I germinated my seed much differently, and It grew in 2 weeks. A 1 and a half inch tall plant in 2 weeks. I took a small bowl,about 2 inches wide and, 1 and a half inches long. I put soil and pushed down the seed. I rapped water aroudn my fingers for about 3 mintues and dripped tiny droplets of water in the bowl until it was moist, with the soil in the bowl, and seed pushed in. Then I took a sandwich plastic baggy and rapped it around the bowl and it left the bag upwards about 3 inches over the bowl. I took a rubber band and put it around the bag part that was around the bowl. Then I put it in the sun. It started growing and condensation filled inside of the bag and it kept the soil moist. My plant looks like how yours did. With the 2 round leaves and the 2 narrow leaves going diagnally upward. This method of growing seeds is much better and promising then the method of germinating in a paper towel. I have tried the paper towel germination 4 times with no luck, and the bowl with the plastic bag and rubber band in the sun once, and that succeded far more and faster. My plant grows taller each day I see it. Thank you for reading.
caruhh3 years ago
Grafting is necessary to get the genes of the parent (tasty apples) and so its already mature, making apples, otherwise you'd have to wait years for fruit to produce (mature) on your immature sprout
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