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Apple seed germination

Posted by turak (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 17, 08 at 21:01

I have some questions about apple seeds: are they a wild seed or not?

In other words, can they germinate out in the wild without humans helping them to sprout, or do they need us to germinate?

I have read about people throwing seeds out the window, and the next thing you know: the next year there is a healthy growing sapling outside the window. Can this happen with an apple seed? or do they need to be germinated indoors?

Basically, what I am asking is: that if I plant an apple in the ground, and walk away: can it germinate by itself? If somebody just throws an apple seed out the window, will it germinate?

The reason I am asking is that there is a young wild apple tree growing right next to the back door of our summer cottage 60 miles north of Montreal. Where the heck it came from I don't know.

I have also heard about how some trees use birds and animals to spread their seeds by letting them eat their fruit, and the seeds pass through an animal's digestive tract and is dropped to the ground so the seed uses the animal or birds droppings as a fertilizer, and how some seed need to be passed through a digestive tract in order to spark germination.

Did a passing bird do this? Our summer house is on top of a hil, and in the middle of a wild forest that has no apple trees for miles. Or did someone eat an apple, and one of the seeds just happened to fall there?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Apple seed germination

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 18, 08 at 9:59

No, apple seeds don't need us to germinate them indoors. Apple seeds need cold stratification to germinate. That means a period of cold generally followed by warm to break the hard seed coat and start the germination process. Conditions - weather, amount of moisture, the type of soil it falls on and how much soil covers it would all play a part in whether that seed will germinate and continue to grow.

Where your apple seed came from is hard to say - its quite likely it could have been birds or animals. I suppose its equally as likely that it came from someone eating an apple. It's always interesting to speculate how a tree or plant started growing somewhere when there was obviously no one planting it.

So, say it did come from your eating a store bought apple, which happened to have viable seed (not hybridized sterile seed), and that seed has grown into a sapling. Its hardiness and whether it will grow into a larger tree is yet to be determined. Young stock that has good snow cover all the way to its top may very well survive over winter just fine. As the tree gets larger the top will stick out of the snow and may die back every year. Whether it eventually fruits - well, you'll need to hang on to that summer house for several more years to find out.

How big is the sapling now?


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RE: Apple seed germination

Want to sprout apple seeds? Planting them outside in the fall works or if you put them in slightly moist peat moss right about now, in a closed plastic bag, in your fridge, about planting time you will have roots and a couple of green leaves ready to plant. The seeds need a few months of chilling to sprout.

If you don't want to wait a long time to taste the apples, they should be grafted to an existing tree or a fast maturing rootstock. Cold hardy rootstock may be needed in cold zones for the roots to survive the winters. The trees in question seem to be okay.

You will have mixed results. While some may be good or even excellent, some may be terrible.

If you have lots of space, growing new varieties of apples is a great way to add diversity to the cold zone gene pool.

Remember to chain saw all but the hardiest and/or best tasting.


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RE: Apple seed germination

If you do decide to chainsaw the apple trees, keep the kindling for an addition to your grill. Applewood place on the grill along with your food can add great flavor.

The key to growing apple trees is the stratification (or allowing the seed to winter) weather that be in your fridge or outside all winter is up to you. They need at least 2 months or more in cold temperature before they can be planted outside.


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RE: Apple seed germination

All good info here, ...most apple seedlings revert back to a crab apple.
Does it fruit? If the quality is not to your likings, birds will enjoy
them late in winter or early spring. Or it can be grafted over to
something desirable.


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RE: Apple seed germination

I know next to nothing about germinating apple seeds but I do remember when I was a child, my mom and I just planted an apple seed from a run-of-the-mill grocery store apple into a little container of dirt and it managed to germinate inside the house at room-temperature without any sort of special cold treatment. I can't remember how tall it grew inside the house as I don't think my attention span was too long back then....


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RE: Apple seed germination

YES...most apples are stored for very long time in just above
freezing temp. before they go to the store....enough for cold treatment.


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