My apple seeds are germinating, what next?

edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)February 25, 2012

I've had some apple seeds germinating in the frig. in some wet paper towels. I noticed that one is germinating. What next? Should I plant it in some potting mix? Any suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks.

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franktank232(z5 WI)

Yup... Don't pot them up in anything too small.. I usually put them in a tray of 18... then i'll pot up to gallon pots. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 8:21PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

OK! Thanks Frank.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 2:10PM
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It was my understanding that apples HAD to be grafted.
ALL apples HAD to be grafted.
But the Extension agent told me no, not apple are grafted.
Is it possible that I was told wrong & am now wrong!
Say it is not so.:-)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 7:33PM
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I was curious if you were to just leave them in the fridge until they sprout or take them out after a sufficiant chill duration and sprout them in warm weather?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:10PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Apple seeds will sprout in the refrigerator.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:19PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Here is a tray of peaches and some other stonefruit:

I'll leave them in here for about a month or so and then repot to gallon...from there i'll leave them until late May or early June and figure out where I want to set them. They'll outgrow gallon pots very quick once the days get long and the weather warms. I start all my stuff in a greenhouse, so I get a head start.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 12:29AM
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The next step is very important, in the process of growing an apple tree from seeds, and has to done with care. Remove the soil very carefully from the bag or container, and place it in a hole that is about 10 mm deep. If there are many seedlings, plant them at different locations. Avoid replanting the apple plant, as most of the cultivars are rather delicate and rarely survive re-potting.

The location at which you plant the germinated apple seed is very critical, because the tree should receive morning sunlight. This helps in evaporating dew, which is a medium for the spread of contagious diseases. The apple tree also needs to be planted in a type of soil that drains quickly.

If you wish to reap really good benefits from the tree, then it is advisable that you learn the techniques of pruning and balancing the tree. You can also get very good results if you prune the top branches regularly, and allow sunlight to reach the lower branches. The sunlight not only makes the lower branches healthy, but also prevents them and the fruits from infestation.

Your journey with your apple plant does not end with the planting of a germinated seed. You need to care for the plant, protect it, prune it, put in fertilizers, and last but not the least, love it, in order to get the best quality fruit from it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 6:55AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I forgot to ask about light. I was planning to put the germinated seeds into 3" pots. Is a sunny windowsill enough? Or do I need to set up a fluorescent light like I do when I start tomatoes inside? Frank....looks like you have some sort of greenhouse set-up. I notice that you are in Z5 also. Obviously still winter there as it is here. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 1:58PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

In front of a window is fine...once it starts warming up...put them outside if you can, even if just for the day. I have mine in a greenhouse, but yeah...its still winter. I've been OK as long as the outside temp doesn't go 20F or so.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 4:42PM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

I find if you have them under florecent grow lights they harden off a lot quicker to the full blown sun. For me I can take them from grow lights, expose them to morning and evening sun for 2 days then expose them to full day sunlight and not have the leaves burn.When I first started playing around it would take about a week of having them under an old window pane for the morning and evening exposure and then shading them from the afternoon .Even after all that I would still get burnt leaves.For me the grow lights really speed things up and you don't get a weak spindly grass whip sitting on the windowsil. I hope you have fun with your trees,I have a seedling that produces small inch and a half apples that are absolutely great!I have also grafted 10 other varietties to it. People do a double take when they see it because there are big apples little apples red apples yellow get the idea. I also have some seedling trees with horrid tasting fruit which was not a problem as they are quickly being worked over.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 7:39PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

hasslecloud - could credit your sources, please? Readers need to know if they are getting replies based on experience or on Google.

jolj - if you want an identical tree to the parent, ie a clone, they do have to be grafted. If you are not interested in a clone you can grow an apple tree from seed but the resulting fruit will be pot luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing apples from seed

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:38AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


Yeah...if you are putting them out late enough, then burnt leaves is a real concern. I'd leave them in the shade for a few days or so and then move them into full sun. I have all my stuff in a greenhouse for most of the spring, so I don't see many issues, only with excessive heat (greenhouse even now will warm to 90F).

Seedlings grow extremely fast. I just was looking at a dormant apple seedling I have out in the garage and its taller then me (over 6ft) and this will be its 3rd summer and that is after having it in a way too small of pot (1 gallon) for one whole summer. I'm going to see how fast I can get a seedling to fruit.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:44AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Wow, what teriffic information! I've got some good sterile seed starting mix that I plan to use to plant the germinated seeds in. I have about 8 seeds in the frig. and 2 of them have roots about 1/8" long. Can they go into the mix now, or should I wait for the root to lengthen a bit? This is my first time with apple seeds, so I have a lot of questions. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:04PM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

I usually stick em in the soil as soon as i see them sweel and crack their shells. Do you have a lot of seeds? If you are growing out over 40 or so I tried those seed starter trays last year with the dry peat moss pucks that you activate with hot water. they worked quite well, after observing which ones are the strongest growing ones you can pick them out and dedicate them to larger pots and terf the weaker ones.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:18PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Thanks Glenn. I only have a few seeds. Just trying to get one decent seedling, I'll probably pot up a few. OK, so tomorrow is the day, as soon as my son gets home from school we'll be a plantin'.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:51PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

It's been alluded to, but I'll say it again, coz I'd hate someone to get the wrong idea.
Apples from seed are likely to bear no resemblance to their parents. They might be great, they might be 'spitters'. You won't know until they fruit.
If I had plenty of space, I'd plant a bunch out and experiment away! I don't, so I have grafted, named cultivars. Boring, but a safe bet.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:31AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

Edweather, just so you know it will take 7 or more years before you get any fruit to try, and that one seedling could end up being a thorn bush(which is not that bad as I have found the thorny ones bear earlier and you can graft them over to something else)If you have the space I would try and get a few growing then you can weed out the weaker ones in a few years.The way I see it, it is well worth the effort even if it is a dud , it's all about trying something new and having fun while gaining experience along the way with your children.So have fun and in a few years you can look at that tree and say "remember when we planted that"?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 8:17PM
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Speaking of apple trees grown on their own stock. We live on an old farm where there was an apple orchard circa 1830s. Here and there on the property is a wildling apple tree, likely progeny of the orchard down a few generations. We were bushhogging one day and noticed a good looking sapling growing in a field we hadn't mowed in a few years. Left it, just to have a tree there.

I suspect the seed was dropped by a bird or some other varmint and she grew into a beautiful apple tree with an early bearing fruit. It is good enough to eat raw, but makes fabulous apple sauce and a decent pie. So, you just never know.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 1:43AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Wonderful discussion. I'm not as obsessive with this apple tree growing experiment(yet,)as I am with other things that I grow. Like as was mentioned, my son and I are just having fun planting something in winter and seeing what happens. Two Empire seeds germinated in the frig, and we planted them together in a 4" pot of Jiffy mix, and have them on a heating pad. If a couple more seeds germinate we might do the same thing with them also. We don't have a lot of room, and in all likelihood won't be living here 10 years from now. Bottom line.....we're just having fun. Hopefully we'll get something that we can plant outside, and like you say, point at it and say, "remember when...." That would be fun! Now if you want to talk serious, just get me talking about my tomatoes and blueberries.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 8:42AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Here is one of my seedlings (2 years old) that should probably be planted out into the ground this year (i have way too many). I will end up grafting it over to Honeycrisp or some other apple....

Just keep in mind, if you don't plant them in the ground, that they will quickly fill up the pot with roots.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 9:19AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Wow, nice tree! The size is amazing! I imagine if we get a viable tree it will go into the ground somewhere, come heck or high water.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:08PM
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We start apple seedlings in tiny peat or coir pots and then transplant directly into the soil, then bud-graft and dig up a year later. They wilt quickly if dug out of a seed tray and transplanted, but if I leave them in the peat pot I can plant them out in 100 degree weather (unfortunately common here in April) with not even a hiccup. Pink Lady apples often come with a seed already sprouting inside.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 5:15AM
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I have an apple seed that has about 4 sets of true leaves.What will I do next?It's in a tiny pot and I am thinking that I should leave it rootball the pot,is this wak ok or what?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 5:23AM
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