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How To Propagate an Apple Tree from Your Snack Apple

Growing an apple tree from seeds seems like a no-brainer way to grow an apple orchard-- or at least one great gnarly tree you could sling up a swing on for the future grandkids. Didn't that dude Johnny Appleseed just go about the USA flinging his seeds into the breeze, and aren't like 75% of all apple trees growing today a result of that expedition?

 Well... no. No. Growing an actual APPLE-BEARING apple tree from the seeds you just popped from your coffee-break fruit into a hanky is a lot rarer an experience than you might think.

BUT you can grow a tiny tree with shiny green leaves, and if you want to do a little more work and study, you can use this small tree as "root stock" for growing an apple tree that will possible produce edible apples (suggested: a dwarf apple tree).

BUT in the meantime, why not go ahead and root those apple seeds just for the fun of seeing the little thing grow in a pot on your windowsill or deck? And maybe you will prove me wrong and the small plant will mount into the sky and been heavy with apples... if that happens, I would be ever so happy to be publicly shamed-- you may write me a looonnngg comment with pictures of the apple tree(s) and I will amend this blog post to accommodate your success .

  1. Slice the apple just to the start of the core and then break it open to get at the seeds without injuring them.
  2. Eat your apple
  3. Set the seeds aside to dry for an hour or so.
  4. In Nature, an apple tree must sit for a long time under 4 degrees Celsius/39.2F, in order for it to sprout.  To replicate this process, and to make the seed believe it is in a winter situation, pack the seed in damp sawdust or in damp paper towels, in a covered, airtight, labeled (date and type of seed) container in the refrigerator.
  5. Start checking the seed after 45 days to see if any of the seeds have sprouted.
  6. Carefully dump out the contents of the container and with a stick, sort through and take out the seedlings that have fat little rootlets started.  Put them carefully aside to take to your growing area (nursery).  Put the non-sprouted (or poorly-sprouted) seeds back in the container, seal, and return to the fridge.
  7. Check the refrigerated seeds about once or so a week for about the next six weeks or until they have quit sprouting.  
  8. Each week plant the rootlets either in small (5") containers and cover lightly in compost, or if seriously considering growing root stocks, plant in fine soil 15 cm apart in rows 60cm apart.  In about 4 months you should be able to graft onto these root stocks.
  9. Apple trees rarely grow "true to type" so grafting would be the next step with your root stocks if you want a decent eating apple.  There are many videos that show the more complex matter of grafting onto the root stock.  Otherwise, you might just enjoy your fruit-free apple tree as you would a ficus.
Helpful short videos for understanding germinating apple seeds and starting root stocks:

Ernest young lad shows how to cut the apple so as not to damage the apples and how to pack into the toweling to ready for germinating.
Follows the above video and shows how to pot the seedlings in light compost.
    An explanation of how to germinate seeds with an eye to growing root stock from the seeds.

    Image of Apple Blossom courtesy of FreeImages 

    Have a look HERE at some other plants you can grow yourself cheap or free! 


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