How to Grow an Apple Tree from an Apple Seed

Growing an apple tree from a seed can be a fascinating and rewarding journey. Not only does it offer the joy of nurturing a plant from its earliest stages, but it also provides the potential for delicious, home-grown apples. While it takes patience and care, the process of growing an apple tree from a seed is straightforward. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you through each step.

1. Extracting and Preparing the Seeds

The first step in growing an apple tree from a seed is to extract the seeds from a fresh apple. Choose an apple variety you enjoy, as this will increase the likelihood of producing apples you will love.


  • Extract the Seeds: Cut the apple open and remove the seeds. You will typically find five to ten seeds in each apple.
  • Rinse the Seeds: Rinse the seeds under cold water to remove any remaining apple flesh. This helps prevent mold during the next stages.

2. Stratifying the Seeds

Apple seeds require a period of cold stratification to break dormancy and prepare them for germination. This mimics the natural winter conditions the seeds would experience outdoors.


  • Dampen a Paper Towel: Moisten a paper towel with water. It should be damp but not dripping wet.
  • Wrap the Seeds: Place the apple seeds on the damp paper towel, fold it over the seeds, and then place the towel in a plastic bag.
  • Refrigerate: Seal the plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator. Keep the seeds in the fridge for 6-8 weeks. Check periodically to ensure the towel remains damp.

3. Planting the Seeds

After the stratification period, the seeds will be ready for planting.


  • Prepare Pots: Fill small pots with well-draining potting soil. You can use seed-starting trays if preferred.
  • Plant the Seeds: Plant each seed about ½ inch deep in the soil. Cover lightly with soil and gently water.
  • Provide Light: Place the pots in a location that receives plenty of sunlight. Apple seeds need ample light to germinate and grow.

4. Germination and Early Growth

Once the seeds are planted, the process of germination and early growth begins.


  • Water Regularly: Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Watering should be consistent to encourage healthy root development.
  • Monitor Growth: Within a few weeks, you should see sprouts emerging from the soil. Once the seedlings grow a few inches tall and have several leaves, they are ready for transplanting.

5. Transplanting the Seedlings

When the seedlings are robust enough, they can be transplanted to larger pots or directly into the ground, depending on the climate and time of year.


  • Choose a Location: If transplanting outdoors, select a sunny location with well-draining soil. Ensure the area has enough space for the tree to grow.
  • Prepare the Soil: Enrich the planting site with compost or organic matter to provide nutrients for the young tree.
  • Transplant Carefully: Gently remove the seedling from its pot, being careful not to damage the roots. Plant it in the prepared hole, making sure the root ball is level with the soil surface. Water thoroughly after planting.

6. Caring for Your Apple Tree

The care you provide during the early years of growth is crucial for establishing a healthy apple tree.


  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry periods. Deep watering encourages deep root growth.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Fertilizing: Feed the young tree with a balanced fertilizer in early spring and midsummer. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can lead to excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
  • Pruning: Prune the tree during its dormant season (late winter or early spring) to remove dead or diseased branches and shape the tree. Proper pruning improves air circulation and light penetration, promoting healthy growth and fruiting.

7. Protecting Your Tree from Pests and Diseases

Young apple trees are vulnerable to pests and diseases. Vigilant care is required to protect your tree during its formative years.


  • Inspect Regularly: Regularly check the tree for signs of pests such as aphids, caterpillars, or apple maggots. Early detection makes management easier.
  • Organic Pesticides: Use organic pesticides or natural predators, such as ladybugs, to control pest populations.
  • Disease Prevention: Ensure good air circulation around the tree and avoid overhead watering to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Remove any fallen leaves or fruit to prevent disease spread.

8. Patience and Long-Term Care

Growing an apple tree from a seed requires patience. It can take several years for the tree to mature and produce fruit.


  • Monitor Growth: Keep an eye on the tree’s growth and health, making adjustments to care as needed.
  • Pollination: Ensure there are other apple trees nearby for cross-pollination, which is essential for fruit production. If space allows, planting multiple apple trees can increase yield.
  • Harvesting: Once your tree starts producing fruit, enjoy the process of harvesting your home-grown apples. Apples are typically ready for harvest in late summer to early fall.


Growing an apple tree from an apple seed is a long-term investment that can yield delicious rewards. By following these steps—extracting and stratifying the seeds, planting and caring for the seedlings, and providing ongoing care—you can cultivate a healthy apple tree in your garden.

Have you tried growing an apple tree from a seed? Share your experiences and tips with us in the comments below. Let’s embark on this fruitful journey together!

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