[NAFEX] Starting apple trees from seed

jelie at new.rr.com jelie at new.rr.com
Sat Nov 21 11:10:48 EST 2009

Hey Deb,

I've been growing out apple seeds for the past couple years,  I use the recommendations of Philip Forsline of the USDAs national apple repository in Geneva New York.  He is also one of the individuals who have brought back seed and scion from Kazakhstan.

I have his specific instructions on the hard drive of my old computer which I could relay later. Anyway, as close as I can remember it involves  soaking out the seed coat's chemical inhibitors then placing the seeds in the refrigerator where they will germinate 2.5 - 3 months later.  Although, I have found germinating seeds inside apples I had just enjoyed.  Also, some seeds may even exceed the three months on occassion.  From the refrigerator you tranplant them into a growing medium and give good light.

1.  With the dried seeds you soak them in warm water, changing the water every fifteen minutes.  Do this for 2-3 hours.

2.  After that change the water every two hours or so for about three days. A long soak overnight won't hurt them.

3.  After the soaking period, disinfect the seeds with a 1 part bleach to 10 parts of water solution.  Then rinse with regular water.

4.  I then soaked a paper towel in water and wrung it out.  I fold it in half twice then place the seeds into one of the folds.  I slip the paper towel into a plastic sandwich bag then I place the sandwich bag into a plastic dish or plate and set in the refrigerator.  

5.  Monitor the seeds at least on a weekly basis.  If mold starts, you can disinfect them as above and replace the damp paper towel and plastic bag.  The ungerminated seeds are safe to disinfect but any that are germinating will be killed by the disinfectant.  

6.  The seeds will germinate at refrigerator temps.  I like to give the roots about one half to three quarters of an inch of growth then transplant them into a growing medium.

7.  Use a lighter rather than heavier medium.  From experience, potting soil is too heavy.  I picked a bag of sand-based topsoil and amended it with perlite which seemed to work well.  I am sure that regular vermiculite or perlite would work as well.  

8.  Give lots of light and monitor as you would any young plant.  I used a gro-light for mine but a good sunny window would probably do as well.

If you have seen the Public television documentary "Botany of Desire" they have a nice segment on apples.  This can be seen by going to there website.

Good Luck,

Jim Elie
Green Bay, WI
Zone 4/5

---- Deb S <debs913 at gmail.com> wrote: 
> Hi
> I've received some apple seeds that I would like to grow out.  What
> techniques do you all recommend for stratification?  Any tips on growing
> apples from seed?  (Yes, I know, they won't be "true", but this is an
> experiment I want to try.)  Thanks!
> deb

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