This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
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You can grow apples from seed, but keep in mind that the type of apple tree you end up with might not be the same as the seed you planted.  X Research source For example, if you plant a Granny Smith apple seed, you might not end up with a Granny Smith apple tree. It might be some other type of apple from the Granny Smith lineage. If you want to plant an apple tree from seed, there are several things you will need to do to increase your chances of success.
The reason why many fruit trees are grafted is because they do not grow true to seed. Only by grafting the scion wood (a cutting of a branch) from the original tree onto another rootstock (the base another tree with roots) can you ensure that you get the same fruit each time.
If we consider Granny Smith apples for example, the scion wood of all grafted trees of this variety, all around the world, everywhere, can be traced back to a single tree in one part of the world! Quite amazing when you think about it. in the case of the Granny Smith apple variety. it all originated from a single seedling that came up by chance from a pile of discarded crab apples in Australia in 1868 and was discovered by Maria Ann Smith, who propagated the cultivar. In each part of the world where a Granny Smith apple is grown, scion wood which is a clone of the parent tree will be grafted onto a various different rootstocks to cope with the local growing conditions.
Choose an apple variety that is likely to grow and fruit well in your area. If your winters include at least three or four months of temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, choose cold-climate apples. Varieties known to survive winters as low as minus 40 to minus 45 F in USDA zones 3 through 6 include Cortland, Earligold, Honeycrisp, Honeygold, McIntosh, Paula Red and State Fair. Gala and Golden Delicious can be planted in USDA zones 5 and 6.
Select fresh, in-season apples of your chosen variety, grown in a northern-hemisphere country such as the United States, Canada, China or nations of the European Union. You’re likeliest to find new crop apples from September to December. The apples’ skin color should be bright, strong and appear vibrant, not dull or lifeless. Sniff the blossom end of each apple; the best apples have a full and fruity aroma. Refrigerate the apples until you’re ready to extract their seeds.
Choose a warm-climate apple variety if winter temperatures do not drop below about 35 degrees Fahrenheit for three or four months in your area. Golden Delicious and Gala do especially well in most regions of USDA zones 5 to 9. Some of the best varieties for zones 6 through 8 include Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Red Delicious and Rome Beauty.
Warm- and Cool-Climate Apples.
Transplant the apple seedlings to their permanent locations when they are 6 to 8 inches tall. This will typically be in early- to mid-spring if you planted your seeds in November, or in early summer if you’ve used the refrigerator method. Feed each seedling 1 tablespoon of dry urea. Apply the material 3 inches from each plant.
Cultivate a sunny, fertile, well-draining spot in the yard. Plant the apple seeds about 12 inches apart in a furrow one to two times deeper than the length of the seeds. Cover the seeds lightly with soil. Add a 1- to 2-inch deep layer of sand to counteract the effects of winter soil crusting, which can keep the seeds from sprouting. Lay a piece of 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth over the area to prevent animals from eating the seeds. The apple seeds are dormant and will receive all the water they need naturally from winter precipitation. They will sprout in early April.
Remove the apple seeds from the jar in mid-January. Place peat moss in a bowl, and mist it with water from a plastic spray bottle, making the peat moss evenly moist but not wet or soggy. Mix the apple seeds with the peat moss, and put the peat moss and apple seeds in the jar. Cap the jar loosely with its lid, and put the jar in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer until after the last predicted frost for your area. Then remove the jar from the refrigerator, take the apple seeds out of the peat moss, and plant them outside, following the same steps as for autumn planting.
Eat the apples, and reserve their seeds. Spread the seeds on a paper towel, and leave them out of direct sunlight for two or three days to air-dry at room temperature. Leave plenty of space between the seeds to allow good air circulation. If you live in a cold climate, your seeds can be planted out at this stage, ideally in November.
Water the apple tree seedlings when they emerge in early spring if the ground is not still moist. Do not allow them to dry completely. Keep the soil surface evenly moist but not soggy or wet.
“Vernalize” the apple seeds if you live in a warm climate. Drop the dried seeds into a small glass jar and cap it loosely with its lid, then put the jar in a refrigerator’s crisper drawer for two to four months. Depending upon the cultivar, even apples grown in USDA zones 7, 8 and 9 require this chilling stage, because the embryos develop to maturity during this winter chilling period as the seeds undergo dormancy.
Planting Apple Seeds from Store Bought Apples.
Apple trees thrive and fruit best in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, although they can grow in zones 3 through 9 throughout most of the United States. Planting apple seeds from store bought apples is a viable way to start trees, though the apples from those trees won’t necessarily be like the parent apple. The trees may bear fruit six to 10 years after they were started from seeds.
Water the apple seedlings every 10 or 12 days, in the absence of rain, until they are well-established.