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How to Plant Apple Seeds: Homegrown Apple Trees

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So much of the fun of gardening is planting seeds to see what grows! We discovered it’s so easy learning how to plant apple seeds, even if you don’t know just what kind of apple tree you’ll get, or if you’ll even get any edible apples!

Growing an apple tree from seed is an easy and rewarding activity to try with your kids.

Learn how to plant apple seeds to grow a baby apple tree like this granny smith sapling
Learn how to plant apple seeds to grow a baby apple tree like this Granny Smith sapling.

First, set expectations that you may not end up with an apple tree that is true to type. Apple seeds tend to be hybrids and most traditional apple trees are actually grafted.

If you have interest and some space to grow an apple tree or two, why not give it a shot? You could end up with delicious apples, or even a decent shade tree, if nothing else.

Here’s how to plant apple seeds from grocery store apples.

Do apple seeds grow into trees?

Yes, apple seeds can and do grow into trees. Whether those apple trees produce edible apples is a different story. Every seed may grow into a tree, but every tree may not produce true apples. The seeds may produce hybrids or apples of unknown type. You may get delicious, real apples or inedible crabapples.

Growing Apple Seeds from Store Bought Apples
Growing Apple Seeds from Store Bought Apples

Do apple seeds need cold stratification?

Yes, apple seeds generally need cold stratification to help break the seed out of dormancy. You can achieve this chilling period simply by placing your apple seeds in the fridge for several weeks or up to 2 to 3 months. First, place the seeds between wet paper towels in a zip-top baggie.

Growing an Apple Tree from Seed

If learning how to grow apple seeds into trees is the easiest part, the waiting is definitely the hardest part! Getting an apple tree to produce fruit can take around 7 years!

Patience and waiting aside, here’s how to germinate apple seeds and plant a homegrown apple tree.

Red apples with lots of seeds on a napkin
Red apples with lots of seeds on a napkin

Germinating Apple Seeds

Germinating apple seeds in paper towel and a plastic baggie is the easiest method I’ve found for starting an apple tree from seed.

Follow these simple steps to plant an apple tree from seed.

  1. Remove apple seeds from the desired apple. Keep in mind that fruit from any tree that grows may be very different.
    Apple Seeds Removed from Apples with a Cutting Board, Knife, and Peeler
  2. Fold a paper towel in half and wet it with a water-filled spray bottle.
  3. Space out apple seeds on the paper towel.
  4. Wet the seeds and paper towel a bit more.
  5. Fold the towel over the seeds and place it in the bag. Close the bag.
  6. Use a permanent marker to write the variety of apple tree and the date on the bag.
  7. Place the bag with apple seeds in the refrigerator to cold stratify.
  8. Mark your calendar to check for apple seeds germination in a month or so. (Germination of apple seeds can take up to 3 months or more, so don’t give up!)
Germinating Apple Seeds in Paper Towel and Baggie Method - Yellow Delicious plus more apples to try
Germinating Apple Seeds in Paper Towel and Baggie Method – Yellow Delicious plus more apples to try

Sprouting apple seeds should be evident by roots emerging. You may also see bright green stems and leaves if the seedlings develop a bit before you check them.

Now that you know how to germinate apple seeds, let’s get started growing some baby apple trees!

Many apple seeds falling out of a green apple half on a cutting board
Many apple seeds falling out of a green apple half on a cutting board – How do you NOT plant these?!

Growing Apples from Seed

Growing baby apple trees from seed at home is still easy even after apple seed germination.

Simply follow these steps to transplant sprouted apple seeds.

  1. Gently remove sprouted apple seeds from the bags.
  2. Observe whether roots are embedded in the paper. If so, you can tear a small area, keeping it attached to prevent root damage.
  3. Fill a nursery pot with soil and moisten it.
  4. Place the apple tree seedling in the center of the pot.
  5. Cover the seedling with soil, fully covering the root.
  6. Lightly water to help the seedling establish itself in its new home.
  7. Move the apple seedling to a spot with indirect sunlight. Gradually introduce it to brighter light, especially LED grow lights if you’re growing indoors.
  8. Once outdoor temps remain above freezing, you can begin hardening off the baby tree. It should thrive living outdoors for the summer as long as you remember to water it enough.

By the way – Sometimes you might even find apple seeds sprouting inside apples you cut for a snack! You can plant these seeds, too. 🙂

Sprouting Apple Seeds still inside an apple (green Granny Smith)
Sprouting Apple Seeds still inside an apple (green Granny Smith)

Have you tried growing apple trees from seed? Do you have any other tips on how to plant apple seeds or grow a homegrown apple tree?

We always love hearing from you in the comments! Share your story and experiences or feel free to ask any questions and we’ll do our best to help.

Happy Gardening!

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