Save the seeds from apples purchased from the grocery store. If you plant them right, you can grow your own apple tree.
Seemingly everyone’s favorite fruit snack, the apple has a long history that can be traced back thousands of years to Central Asia, where the domestic apple’s wild ancestor can still be found today. Their crisp, sweet, and even tart flavors have captivated the taste buds and imaginations of people from many cultures, cementing their place in history.
Today, there are thousands of cultivars of apples ranging from small to large, green to red, and sweet to sour. Some are ready to eat straight off the tree while others are made into pies or pressed into apple juice or ciders.
Most apples are now cloned through a process known as grafting, where a small branch or bud is joined onto the rootstock of another with surgical precision. This causes a new tree to grow. Grafting ensures that whole orchards can be planted with exactly the same fruit and harvested at the same time while the rootstock functions as a growth inhibitor to produce super dwarf, dwarf, or semi-dwarf trees.
The thousands of apple cultivars did not come to be by magic. They are the result of random mutations known as “sports” and by growers sorting through hundreds (if not thousands) of seedlings looking for something different—whether it be taste, size, color, or consistency. In modern times, these tasks are usually performed by paid plant breeders, but in former years, the simple act of planting a few seeds led to most of the selections we enjoy today.
How to Grow Apples From Seed
With a few supplies and a bit of patience, anyone can grow apples from seed. To begin, you’ll need seed-starting soil mix in a few four-inch pots. Take an apple of your choice and remove the seeds within the core, being careful not to nick or cut them. Clean the seeds off so that they don't have any fruit juice or apple bits on them, and divide them up among the readied pots.
Because apples come from temperate climates, the planted pots need to be stratified (kept cool and moist) for a couple of months before they’ll properly germinate. Set the pots outside on a porch or patio or, to protect from hungry critters, in a garage or shed.
After the required amount of time, move the pots into a warm, well-lit location and keep the soil moist. After a few weeks to a month, all of the seedlings should begin to push through the soil surface, et voilà, you have seedling apple trees! From here, plant them in the ground. Take care to give your new trees plenty of sunlight (preferably full sun) and feed them with a balanced fertilizer. In a number of years, your trees will be ready to produce their first fruits which may or may not be similar to the apple from which they came, but tasting your first apples, unique to the world, is worth all the effort and wait over the years. Enjoy and happy planting!