Can I grow an Apple from seed?

Ever eaten an apple and wondered how to grow an apple tree? Or pondered whether you could plant the pips and grow your own apple tree from seed?  Well, if you have then I can tell you it is not only possible but also not too difficult. However, many people would advise against it.   

What is the downside of growing apples from pips?


The problem is, in most cases, apple trees don't come true from seeds. This means that their fruit may taste completely different from the apple you enjoyed.  The apples may end up being better suited to cider making than eating. Apple trees produced from seeds are genetically different from their parent and it is said, usually inferior. Most apple trees are propagated by grafting which allows growers to produce trees that are genetically identical to one another.

Apple seeds that comes from an heirloom, or open-pollinated, varieties should produce more reliable results though. So, if you want to grow an apple tree from seed with more certainty that the apples will be nice, then this is an option for you.

How big will my apple tree grow?


The last note of caution is around the size of the resulting tree. Even if the apple that gave your seed was from a dwarf fruit tree, the tree that grows may inherit its size from the parent. Meaning your tree could grow to 30 foot high and 30 foot wide!  Something to leave for posterity as it could bear fruit for centuries but not great for a 20 foot square back garden!

Still, the apples we have now must have come from seed at some point so  why not give it a try? If nothing else you will have pretty blossom that the pollinators will adore.

Its a great project for gardening with kids although they may be at Uni by the time the fruit is ready to eat! Apple trees grown from seed won't produce fruit for about 6 to 10 years.

How to Sow Apple Seeds

Apple seeds need cool moist conditions so autumn/fall/ winter is the best time to plant apple seeds.  Although you can use the fridge at other times of year to fake the low temperature needed at the start.  

How to Prepare Apple seeds for planting

Soak the seeds in a bowl full of cool water for an hour. Use as many seeds as you have as the germination rate is only likely to be a third to half of them so they aren't all going to sprout.  

There are two ways, either:

  1. Moisten some kitchen paper, place the seeds on it then fold over. Place this in a sealable plastic bag. Add a moist, wrung out sponge to the bag to prevent drying out. Or
  2. Place a layer of moist sand in the bottom of an old marg tub and place the apple seeds on the moist sand, Cover with another layer of moist sand. Punch a couple of small holes in the lid and then place it on the container. 

The seeds need cold stratification to break dormancy. i.e. this means they need to be at around 3°-5°C (37°-41°F) for about 6 to 8 weeks - so place the bag or container either outside or in the refrigerator depending on temperatures. Check every now and then to make sure its moist.  

How to Plant Apple seeds

When the time is up, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and plant 1 1/2cm (1/2") deep in a small pot, our 4 " Bamboo Pot is perfect for this, filled with well watered, good quality potting compost.  Keep in a cold frame, sheltered south facing spot or under a Bell Cloche outside until the seeds germinate. Its important not to let them dry out and make sure to water slowly to prevent the seed being dislodged.  

Once temperatures reach a fairly regular 23°C (75°F) you should see germination around 2 to 3 weeks later. When you see the seedlings, move the pots to a partially shaded spot.  

When they reach 5cm (2") tall and produce a set of mature leaves you can re-pot them. At this point you can prune the roots if you want to to encourage the production of new feeder roots.  To do this brush the soil off the roots and snip off one-third the length of their roots using clean garden snips. 

Re-pot the seedlings into individual 5-inch pots filled with garden soil. Grow in partial shade with a good weekly watering until the following spring. Then transplant them into their final position once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 10°C (50°F).

When you get to this stage (or if that all seems to difficult any you've bought an apple tree!) then head over to our How to Plant an apple tree blog for info on what to do next.

For further information on how to look after your trees and how to prune apple trees check out this blog on Winter Pruning 


Whether it is seeds or grafted trees good luck with your apple growing and here is a recipe that you might like for Apple Biscuits.


Sarah Talbot


Hi Jennifer, thats fantastic – he’ll have to be patient to eat the apples but it sounds like it is progressing very nicely!

— Haxnicks

Hello, we had two pink lady apple’s in the fridge. Skin’s Very wrinkled, my son Still cut and ate them. Very Juicy he said. But look at the seeds mum? They all had roots on the pips very long too.. He planted them a month now. Only 1-grew. it’s 3-ft tall Now But reading all Your comments here I’ll follow them and plant it now in garden. Plenty of room here. I’m so happy I’ve for this page with all Your blogs Thank you JMJ 😊

— Jennifer Jeans

Hello Mrs K, sorry for the delay in replying but I had to double check with Pippa Greenwood to be sure. The answer is no – do not bury them deeper. Apple trees do not grow new roots from the stem like tomatoes do so in the words of Pippa “don’t bury your apple seedlings alive”!

— Haxnicks

I have some leggy apple seedlings and was wondering if when I repot them if I can bury the stem deeper to support them like you can a tomato? Thank you

— Mrs K

Hi Stephen, that must be hugely satisfying to see your guerilla gardenig bearing fruit like that (literally!) Keep up the good work!

— Haxnicks

For many years I’ve planted apple pips on pieces of spare land, roadside verges etc. many of which have grown into mature fruit bearing trees. And judging by the number of apple trees growing by the side of motorways – easily spotted when they are in fruit – I’m not alone.

— Stephen O’Loughlin

Hi Mike, that’s excellent! If you want to keep them in a pot then you will need a bigger pot – ideally 18" – 22" / 45cm-60cm diameter. Or you could look for containers with a volume of 40-60 litres. You might want to start with a smaller pot than this (but bigger than the one it is in) and move up again in a couple of years time. The alternative is that you find an outdoor space and plant it there. If you don’t have a garden then a friend or relatives garden or maybe talk to a local school or park?

— Haxnicks

For a laugh I planted a few apple seeds to see what would happen. I live in a flat so I planted them in small pots. A couple grew and I’ve potted them on into single 10” pots. They have plenty of leaves and are about 4 foot tall. What should the next step be?

— Mike Hulls

Hi, Mrs P – they sound like they are large enough to go out. They don’t like excessively wet weather while they are establishing so maybe check the forecast to make sure there aren’t any huge deluges on the horizon. Be sure to clear an area around them so that they don’t have to battle with other plants like weeds or grass. Spread the roots as you plant and sprinkle soil between them to ensure no air pockets too. Best of luck – orchard here you come!

— Haxnicks

Hi there! We’ve grown a few apple plants from seeds since last winter. They are between 1 ft and 2 ft tall. Are they ready to be planted in soil or still too small? Thank you!

— Mrs Pearson

Hi Bernie, that is great – so happy that your patience has been rewarded! Hope they taste good too?

— Haxnicks

Hi I have planted apples from supermarket apples. I think I got lucky that they are not humangous for my small garden, taste is not bad either. I think it has taken 10-12 years until I have tasted the fruit of my labour.

— Bernie

Hi, Ben – that is great. You might find that being in pots is stopping the Apples fruiting. If the plants have become pot bound then they will avoid fruiting to conserve their energy. This isn’t always reversible but if you can get them in the ground and give those roots chance to spread then you might be lucky. Love the mini oak forest too! You’ll need quite a bit of room for those!

— Haxnicks

I’ve managed to grow a number of apple trees from seed. I still have four of them left from when I planted the seeds eleven years ago.
They haven’t borne fruit but I still have hope. However they are in large tubs and ideally I need to find an adequate location for them to plant them in the ground.
They are healthy looking with plenty of leaves on them and it has been great to see them grow.
I’ve also manage to get all 8 acorns I was given to grow and these are looking as if they’ll make mighty fine oaks some day.

— Ben Valentine