The Apple tree is one of the easiest trees to grow and as you will know, they produce a lush and juicy fruit. The apple comes in loads of different varieties and some are sweet and tasty to eat straight off the branch and others are a little more bitter and good for cooking or making cider. Apple trees are grown from cuttings that are grafted onto root balls of other plants to guarantee the type of fruit the tree bears. So, if apple trees are all clones, can you grow apples from pips?

Sliced apple with pips showing
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Why You Should Grow an Apple Tree from a Pip?

There are a few reasons that you should give it a go if you have the space to do it and are not looking for the next saleable supermarket variety.

1 – Satisfaction & Education

Growing an apple tree from a pip can be deeply satisfying because it allows you to witness the entire lifecycle of a tree, from a tiny seed to a fully grown, fruit-bearing tree. This process can be particularly educational, both for adults and children. It provides valuable lessons about the natural world, plant biology, and the patience and care required for successful cultivation.

2 – Randomness

When you grow an apple tree from a pip, it’s important to understand that the resulting apple tree may not produce apples that are true to the type of the parent apple. This element of randomness can be exciting because you won’t know exactly what type of apple you’ll get until it bears fruit. The mystery and surprise of discovering the unique characteristics of your apples can be a delightful experience.

3 – Your Very Own Variety

By cultivating an apple tree from a pip, you have the opportunity to develop your very own apple variety. This variety will be distinct and exclusive to your garden. While it may not always lead to something commercially viable, there’s a chance that you could stumble upon a new and exceptional apple variety with unique flavours, appearances, or characteristics. This could be a source of pride and potentially even a valuable addition to your orchard.

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Germinated Apple Seed
Germinated Apple Seed

Why is Growing Apples from Pips NOT Recommended?

In the horticultural world, growing apples from pips is considered a waste of one’s time and space and here’s why:

1 – Uncertainty in Outcome

Growing an apple tree from a pip introduces a level of uncertainty in the outcome. Unlike planting a grafted or known apple variety, where you can expect specific characteristics, apples grown from pips are unpredictable. This uncertainty can be a drawback for those seeking consistent fruit quality or specific traits.

2 – Lengthy Time to Fruit

Apple trees grown from pips typically take longer to reach maturity and produce fruit compared to trees propagated through grafting or other methods. It can take several years, often a decade or more, before a pip-grown apple tree bears its first fruit. This lengthy wait for harvest may not be suitable for those looking for quicker results.

3 – Variability in Fruit Quality

Because apple trees grown from pips may not produce apples true to the parent, there’s a risk of variable fruit quality. Some of the apples may be undesirable in terms of taste, size, or appearance. This inconsistency in fruit quality can be frustrating for those who desire a more reliable and uniform harvest.

4 – Potential for Weak or Unhealthy Trees

Not all apple pips will result in robust and healthy trees. Some seedlings may be weaker, more susceptible to diseases, or less hardy than trees propagated through other methods. This variability in tree health can lead to disappointment, especially if the goal is to establish a thriving and productive orchard.

Wild Crab Apples
Wild Crab Apples

Conclusion

If you want to grow your own apples, you will need to be careful in which way you choose. Apples can be grown from pips although you cannot guarantee that it will produce a nice and tasty fruit. If you plant apple seeds, it really is potluck with what fruit it will bear, some may be small and yellow with a bitter taste, or you may get lucky and produce a nice and shiny red dessert apple (the chances of that happening are extremely slim). If you want to guarantee the fruit type of your tree, you will need to purchase an apple tree that has already been grafted onto the cloned rootstock of another plant.

3 Reasons to Grow Apple Trees from Pips Infographic

Did you Know?

“When chewed, apple seeds release a minute dose of hydrogen cyanide which in large doses is extremely toxic!”

“Every new apple tree grown from seed is unique in its genetic makeup!”

“A naturally grown apple tree can grow up to 30 feet tall!”

“There are apple breeding programs that plant thousands of trees searching for the next commercial hit!”

“You may have seen an apple or two in your life, but did you know that all the apples that you buy in a supermarket are clones? Every Braeburn, Cox & Gala all stemmed from a single parent tree!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between apple pips and apple seeds?

Nothing, apple pips and apple seeds are the same things. They are the seed of the apple tree and the small brown pips grow inside the apple fruit.

Can you grow apples indoors?

Apple seeds can be started indoors and then planted out in the early spring after the first frost. Apple trees are not grown indoors due to the lack of light and the fact that they can reach 30 feet tall.

Can you eat apple seeds?

Apple seeds can be eaten and swallowed whole with no ill effect. When the seeds are chewed, however, they release hydrogen cyanide in extremely small quantities. 

Do apple seeds contain cyanide?

Yes, when chewed, the amygdalin in the seeds breaks down to release hydrogen cyanide in small quantities.

How many apple seeds does it take to kill someone?

It is said that it would take approximately 150-200 apple seeds to kill a human adult. The amount is not exact as there are other factors such as height, weight, and metabolism. 

How long does it take to grow an apple seed?

When you grow an apple tree from seed, on average, it takes around 10 years before the apple tree will grow and be strong enough to bear fruit.

Why are apple trees cloned?

Apple trees that are grown from seed do not grow true-to-type fruits of their parent tree. The reason for cloning is mainly commercial in order to guarantee what fruit the tree will bear.


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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