Although most people purchase nursery-raised apple trees to plant in their orchards or yards, you can actually raise apple trees from seeds, provided you're patient--and very lucky. According to George Weldon, author of "Apple Growing in California," most fruit trees grown from seed aren't true to their variety, which means that you really will have no idea what sort of fruit your seed-grown tree will produce until it's completely grown. Even if your tree doesn't produce the type of apple that you were hoping for, raising apple trees from seeds is an inexpensive and educational project for adults and children alike.
Save apple seeds from an apple. Try to choose apples from healthy trees that produce high-quality fruit to maximize your chances of growing healthy trees that will produce good fruit themselves. If your apple trees do grow true to their variety, you want that apple variety to be one that you use and enjoy.
Put your apple seeds through cold stratification, which is necessary for them to germinate. Wrap them in several layers of moist paper towel and place them in a secure location in your refrigerator for at least six weeks. Check the paper towels each day to make sure they remain moist throughout that time period.
Allow your apple seeds to germinate. Plant them at a depth of approximately 1/2 inch in seedling pots or empty yogurt containers filled with potting soil or peat moss. If you use empty yogurt containers, poke four to six holes in the bottom with a small nail for drainage. Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Store your seed pots in a warm, dimly lit area in your home until the plants emerge from the soil, which should take approximately one week.
Care for your apple seedlings. Place the seedlings in a warm, sunny area in your home, such as a kitchen window. Check them daily, making sure the soil is moist at all times.
Transplant your apple seedlings into larger pots. Once the seedlings have grown at least two leaf levels, gently transplant each seedling and all its surrounding potting soil into a larger seed pot, typically one that is at least 4 inches in diameter to allow adequate room for root growth.
Plant your apple seedlings in the ground after allowing them to grow for six to eight weeks. Using a shovel, dig a hole in the ground that is about 2 inches larger on all sides than the container your apple seedling is in. Squirt enough water in the bottom of the hole with your garden hose to make a 1-inch-deep pool of water. Place the apple seedling and all its potting soil into the hole and gently pack dirt around the base of the tree.
Maintain your tree. Water your apple seedling regularly. Consider encircling it with a ring of chicken wire to protect it from animals such as chickens that might dig it up. Your apple tree should mature and begin producing fruit in approximately six to seven years.