Growing Fruit Trees From Seeds – Mother Earth News (2023)

Most fruit trees are best grown from grafted trees that cost $25 to $35 each. But with peaches, nectarines and apricots, you can cut your cost to zero by growing fruit trees from seeds.

Because cross-pollination between varieties produces variable results, apples and some other fruit trees are usually not grown from seeds. (Instead, cuttings or buds of the best varieties are grafted onto rootstocks to produce trees that bear fruit just like the parent tree’s.) But the almondlike seeds in pits from peaches, nectarines and apricots do a good job of carrying on the desirable traits of their parents. You can simply sprout and grow a seed from a great-tasting specimen, and you have a good chance of sinking your teeth into sweet, juicy fruit from your own tree in only three to five years.

Summer is the best time for growing fruit trees, because you can seek out mid- or late-season varieties grown in your region. The best seeds come from fully ripe fruit. Avoid seeds from early maturing varieties because their seeds may not develop enough to sprout. Locally grown varieties are more likely to prosper in your garden compared to varieties grown a thousand miles away, and looking for likely candidates is tasty fun! Eat lots of peaches from farm stands and farmers markets, and save the pits from those that taste like peach heaven. And if you live where you can get local apricots and nectarines, you can try growing them from seeds too.

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Cracking in Safely

Let the pits dry on your kitchen counter for a few days. Drying allows the seed inside the shell to shrink slightly so it’s easier to get out. The shell also becomes more brittle and easier to crack as it dries.

When the pits look and feel dry, you can crack them open to harvest the actual seeds, which look like almonds, a close botanical cousin. You can hold pits on edge and tap them with a hammer, which works well for a few pits but can cause high casualties in terms of accidentally smashed seeds (and fingers). You will lose far fewer seeds by cracking the pits with a vise, lodging both sides of the pit’s long seams between the opposing jaws. (See photo in the Image Gallery.) Crank the vise closed slowly — be careful for your fingers! — until the pit cracks.

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If you don’t have a vise, try a nut cracker. Or you might get enough pit-cracking compression from another type of screw clamp, including the one that holds your food grinder, juicer or hand-cranked grain mill to your kitchen counter — you never know until you try! After you get the seeds out, put them in a closed container in your refrigerator or other place cool enough to store raw nuts.

Strategic Stratification

The time for vegetables and flowers to sprout from seeds to transplants is measured in days or weeks, but with peaches and most other temperate-zone tree fruits, the pregermination process adds two to three months to the timetable. Natural sprouting inhibitors present in the seeds must be deactivated by exposure to cool temperatures for a two- to three-month period. In nature, this chilling period occurs naturally as winter cold comes, fluctuates and invariably leads to spring.You can simply plant peach, apricot and nectarine seeds in pots and bury the pots in a corner of the garden. Seeds that are not discovered by marauding squirrels, curious dogs or other vagaries of the great outdoors will probably sprout in spring.

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To trick seeds into sprouting when you want (usually early spring), use a nursery method called “cold, moist stratification.” Your refrigerator will make a perfectly satisfactory stratification chamber because ideal stratification temperatures range between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. To help your seedlings hit their best growing schedule, start the chilling period about four months before your last spring frost date. Varieties from warmer regions often require a shorter chilling period.

To start the stratification process, soak the seeds in room temperature water overnight, then pop them into a jar of slightly moist potting soil. Close the jar and put it in your refrigerator — ideally in the door—where it won’t get frozen or forgotten.

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Begin checking the contents of the jar after about a month. It never ceases to amaze me how almost all the seeds sprout (as if a switch had been turned on) after they’ve spent enough time being cool and moist. Depending on the particular seed, that time might vary from one to three months (apricots take only four to six weeks), but after the chilling requirements for those particular seeds are satisfied, they’re ready to grow. When you check the jars, the fat, white rootlets will stand out visually against the darker potting soil.

Now you have to do something with those young sprouts, which are eager to get on with the business of growing. If it’s still freezing outdoors, keep the sprouting seeds in the refrigerator a bit longer. A month or so before your last frost date, either pot the sprouts or plant them where you want them to grow. Keeping the seedlings in containers for a couple of months makes monitoring their progress easy. Waxed paper milk cartons with drainage holes punched near the bottoms work well, because when it’s time to plant, you can merely cut away the cartons to minimize any root disturbance.

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Growing On

The better the growing conditions, the sooner your tree will bear fruit. Good growing conditions for peaches and their kin mean fertile, well-drained soil with a near neutral pH. If you must plant where the soil tends to stay wet after rains, haul in some well drained soil and build up a 3-foot wide mound at least a foot high for each little plant. Mix in lime if a soil test shows the pH is too low.

Pruning will delay bearing, so trim your seedling trees only to remove dead, diseased or broken stems, as well as those that grow low on the trunk or are crowding others. Most seedling peach trees will grow to 20 feet or so, while apricots typically grow 12 to 15 feet with annual pruning. Pay attention to weeds, water and nutrition. An organic mulch such as compost, leaf mold, leaves or straw goes a long way toward taking care of all three needs. Create a circle of mulch over the root zone that’s a couple inches deep and 3 feet or more in diameter. Keep the mulch a few inches from the trunk to avoid rot and rodent damage. A better solution for keeping rodents at bay is to surround the trunk with a cylinder of quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth. Various insect borers can be deterred by wrapping the trunks with scraps of garden row cover to prevent them from laying eggs in bark crevices.

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Peaches self-sow so easily that naturalized peach groves became extensive in America not long after peaches were introduced. Early botanists assumed peaches were native to this part of the world, though their origin has since been traced to China. Sow a few peach pits around your homestead, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely tree that covers itself with beautiful pink blossoms every spring, and homegrown, tree-ripened fruit with flavor to die for.


What is the easiest fruit tree to grow from seed? ›

Which trees will grow from seed? Peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, and quinces will all grow easily from seed. Even apricots will often sprout. We usually grow our own peach, plum, pear, and quince rootstocks in the nursery this way.

How long does it take to grow a fruit tree from seed? ›

While annual plants will produce fruit the first year from seeds, some fruit trees may not bear fruit for 5 to 15 years after the seed has been planted.

Which fruit tree is easiest to grow? ›

Many people consider pear trees to be the easiest fruit tree to grow on your own. Specifically, Asian pear tree varieties are well-known as the perfect fruit trees for beginners because of how simple they are to take care of and how much fruit they produce with little extra effort.

What time of year is best to plant fruit trees? ›

The ideal planting time is December through March when nurseries stock bare root fruit trees. The best spot in your garden for a fruit tree gets at least 6 hours of sun, is out of the wind, and can be easily watered. The hole you dig should be twice as wide as the spread of the tree's roots, but not too deep.

What is the quickest fruit to grow? ›

Berries are the fastest-growing fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are some of the fastest-growing fruits. Fruits mature more slowly than vegetables, but some grow quicker than others.
Types of Berries:
  • Strawberries -. ...
  • Raspberries - They do not begin to bear fruit until the second year.

How long can fruit trees stay in pots before planting? ›

Remove a tree from its container every two or three years, and prune the roots, so they don't circle around inside the container. Replace the soil with new potting mix. Then replant the tree in it. The most challenging task may be waiting.

Can you plant seeds right out of the fruit? ›

What about taking the seed from the fruit and planting it to grow out into a tree for their garden? Unfortunately, fruit trees do not grow out from seeds in the fruit. If you collect seed from a plant, the seeds will produce plants that will be a hybrid of two plants.

How long does it take for an apple tree to bear fruit from seed? ›

Also, it takes a long time to grow an apple tree from seed. It will be between 7 to 10 years before you're able to tell if your tree will have good fruit.

Should I soak tree seeds before planting? ›

If you're just getting started, and even if you've been growing from seeds for a while, it's a good idea to soak seeds before planting. This can have a dramatic effect on your germination rate and overall success with gardening! Soaking seeds supplies your plants a jump start right at the beginning of their lives.

What is the fastest way to germinate seeds? ›

One easy way to make seeds germinate faster is to presoak them for 24 hours in a shallow container filled with hot tap water. Water will penetrate the seed coat and cause the embryos inside to plump up. Don't soak them for longer than 24 hours because they could rot. Plant the seeds immediately in moist soil.

Should you soak tree seeds? ›

If you want to give your seeds the greatest chance at sprouting, try soaking seeds in water. This is the secret to boosting germination rates and getting more plants to grow, even if your timing is a little off in the garden or you forget to water as often as you should.

What is the hardiest fruit tree? ›

Haskaps are one of the hardiest fruits you can plant. The blooms can survive up to -8C!

What is the lowest maintenance fruit tree? ›

Plum trees are a good option for smaller gardens while cherry trees will quickly fill out a space in providing shade and bounty of fruit. Peaches and pears are other low-maintenance tree varieties that will produce many years of quality fruit.

What is the best fruit for beginners? ›

These are our ten favourite fruits that are ideal for beginners:
  • Strawberries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Blueberries.
  • Figs.
  • Gooseberries.
  • Apples.
  • Blackberries.
  • Honeyberries.

What is the best fertilizer for newly planted fruit trees? ›

Fruit trees prefer an organic, high nitrogen fertilizer. Blood meal, soybean meal, composted chicken manure, cottonseed meal, and feather meal are all good, organic nitrogen sources.

What month do you fertilize fruit trees? ›

Early spring is the best time to fertilize fruit trees. Avoid fertilizing in late spring or summer as this may stimulate late summer growth that is more susceptible to winter injury. Too much fertilizer produces excessive vegetative growth and inhibits fruiting.

What's the best soil for fruit trees? ›

In general, fruit trees thrive best in well-drained soil with a sandy, loamy texture. If there's too much clay, or too many rocks, it can be difficult for a fruit tree to flourish.

What is the most profitable fruit to grow? ›

What are The Most Profitable Fruit Trees to Grow?
  • Apples. Depending on where you live, you may be able to grow apples at home without too much difficulty. ...
  • Pears. Pear trees are fairly easy to grow and can also be very profitable. ...
  • Grapes. ...
  • Cherries. ...
  • Plums.

Which fruit takes 2 years to grow? ›

Apricot. Even a single tree is enough to grow in the garden because it will produce self-pollinated fruit. This tree grows faster, but it takes 2 years to start bearing fruit. The sweetness of apricots tastes best when fresh.

What is the fastest growing tree from seed? ›

Top 13 Fastest Growing Trees
  • Thuja Green Giant. The Thuja Green Giant is an evergreen tree that can grow in Zones 5 to 9 at a rate of 3 to 5 feet per year. ...
  • Leyland Cypress. ...
  • Autumn Blaze Red Maple Tree. ...
  • Weeping Willow. ...
  • Black Bamboo. ...
  • Baby Giant Arborvitae. ...
  • Lombardy Poplar. ...
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree.
Jan 29, 2020

Which fruit trees grow true from seed? ›

Fruits That Are True to Seed
  • Certain heirloom apples, such as Antonovka.
  • Polyembryonic mango seeds.
  • Lemon.
  • Lime.
  • Orange.
  • Peach.
  • Papaya.
  • Apricot.
Nov 3, 2022

What fruit trees produce fruit first year? ›

Some strawberry (Fragaria spp.), raspberry and blackberry (Rubus spp.) varieties are among the plants that bear fruits their first year.

Which tree produce 1 million seeds in a year? ›

Tree-of-heaven -- or Ailanthus -- is an invasive triple threat, according to a team of plant pathologists. The species produces seeds early in its lifespan, tends to make millions of viable seeds during its life, and continues to produce seeds for decades and, in some cases, for more than a century.

What is the most valuable tree to grow? ›

The Paulownia may currently be the world's most valuable sustainably harvested hardwood tree. A single 12-foot log can easily bring three thousand dollars. Paulownia lumber is resistant to fire, with a combustion point nearly twice that of other lumber.

What is the most easiest tree to grow? ›

Moringa trees are the easiest and fastest to grow and can reach a height of about 30 to 40 feet. They are capable of growing even in poor soil conditions but need to be watered generously. The fruit of the tree is cooked and consumed in many Indian households.

Will an apple tree grow from an apple seed? ›

It is possible to grow an apple tree from an apple seed. However, in most cases, apple trees don't come true from seeds. For example, a seed taken from a Red Delicious apple will not produce a Red Delicious apple tree. Seedling apple trees are genetically different and usually inferior to the parent tree.

What fruit is not true to seed? ›

most plants we commonly eat are not true to seed — apples, avocados, cherries, etc. Some are true to seed — peaches, mango, etc.

Will an apple tree grown from seed fruit? ›

Yes you can, but the tree that grows won't be the same as the tree that the seed came from. Apples do not reproduce true to type, meaning that the tree from the seed will produce apples that are almost certain to be different than the parent.

Which tree gives fruit after 100 years? ›

Java Plum Tree or Jamun Tree

The tree is known to live for about a 100 years. Java Plum commonly known as Jamun is a substantial berry generally oval and elongated with a tarty flavour. The fruit is initially green in color but it tends to change colour as it ripens.

Do you need 2 of the same trees to produce fruit? ›

Most fruit trees require pollination between two or more trees for fruit to set, or for pollen to transfer from the male bloom to the female bloom. Pollination occurs when the trees blossom.

What fruit tree yields the most? ›

Here are just a few examples of the yields that you can expect from a mature fruit tree:
  • Apple – 480- 690 lbs per mature standard tree.
  • Plum – 165 – 330 lbs per standard tree. ...
  • Pear – 192- 288 lbs per standard tree.
  • Apricot/ Peach/ Nectarine – 144-288 lbs per standard tree. ...
  • Cherry – c. ...
  • Blackberry plant. ...
  • Currant bushes.
Apr 21, 2020

What happens if you don't soak seeds before planting? ›

As a general rule of thumb, your seeds will sprout even if you don't soak your seeds before planting, but with soaking the germination time decreases, and the germination rate increases. Seeds that have a continual flow of moisture to uptake have much higher chances of success.

Should you soak seeds overnight before planting? ›

Overnight is usually good. Many sources recommend 8-12 hours and no more than 24 hours. Again, too much soaking and the seeds will start to decompose. If you use very hot water, the soaking time will decrease.

Can you put seeds straight in soil? ›

Growing from seeds indoors is one way of starting your garden. Another option is to tuck seeds directly into soil outdoors. Planting seeds this way is called direct sowing, and it is an easy process that yields great results.


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