Doesn't quite work that way -- apples have some interesting genetic
instabilities that make even grafting known cultivars less than a sure bet.
And seed of any open pollinated, sexually reproduced seed (as opposed to
apomictically produced seeds, as dandelions often do) is going to produce
offspring different from their parents. (Just like human kids, while they
resemble their parents, aren't exact duplicates. And one sibling is not
identical to another.)
It's only with some fairly intensive breeding techniques (e.g. linebreeding,
back-crosses) that we've been able to produce the uniform fields of
plants currently in favor with mechanized agriculture.
John Chapman certainly wasn't toting around bags of grafted apple trees when
he decided to spread apple seeds around on his journeys. Some of the
seedlings that came up produced very nice apples. Some didn't. It's the
same result I'd expect of the OP's little experiment... they may get
some nicely flavored apples from the seedlings, and then again, they
might get spitters. But whatever they get, it'll be interesting for the
kids if the parents help them interpret what they're seeing and
someone earlier claimed that the OP would get "crab apples" from the
seedlings... this is pretty unlikely, as most of the eating apples are
diploids, and most of the crabapples are polyploid (have several sets
of chromosomes, rather than simple pairs.)
At any rate, I think kids (and grownups, too, from the sounds of things
here!) should try things like growing seeds of an open-pollinated, sexually
reproducing crop, just to see some of the hidden genetic variation
uncovered... it's really pretty amazing. I also wish I could get more
people involved in such activities as comparison tastings of fruits --
or as my husband said after I got him to try about 50 cultivars of apple
in a day, "Gee, I wish I'd known before now that there were more apples
than Delicious and Jonathan." (He has now found he also likes tomatoes,
pears, sweet corn and I'm working on getting him off iceberg lettuce. <g>)
Save some seed of something or other... tomatoes, dwarf marigolds,
impatiens, lettuce... grow 'em out and see what you get. It's fun.
Naturally, only the successful chance seedlings were passed down through the
The thousands, or perhaps millions of them that were just awful are not
Statistically, the successful chance seedling is a rarity. I personally
would not put a lot
of time and care into an apple tree with those kinds of odds.
There are a few things I have grown that I'm glad no one knows about.
Exactly how did you grow this Kay pear? Was it a sport of some well
known pear, a seedling of some known pear, or a complete chance seedling?
Or, they came from a known variety tree that lost it's identity somewhere
it's lifetime. Speaking of modern genetically produced apples, have you
some of the newer ones like Cameo, Honeycrisp, Rubinette, etc., etc. If you
in the Fruit, Nut, and Berry Inventory book of available varieties, you will
the chance seedlings there, but only a small percentage of the total
say, leave it up to the experts to do the experimenting, when there are so
good apples of known parentage out there. Encouraging a kid to put his
into a losing venture is not a good introduction to gardening.
I think that many chance seedlings produce fruit that is not only
edible but quite good.
Each year we visit a lot of chance seedling trees and eat and harvest
the fruit. If we can beat the birds to them, most are good to very
good and those that aren't are fine for cooking. These trees grow
along a very quiet country road and we are sure have grown from apple
cores thrown from passing cars. There must be at least 100 of these
trees and we watch and check with interest each year.
Are you saying that natural selection through the history of the apple has
led to a fruit that is desired by birds/animals, and a more desirable apple
for the propagation vector to eat spreads the seed better than apples that
are bitter and tasteless?
Who woulda thunk...
Good is a relative term. How do they compare with a known heritage
or well engineered apple like a Honeycrisp?
There are a lot of vegetables and fruit that pigs eat but I wouldn't find them
You can't compare a bird's taste buds to a human. Sometimes, they will eat an
apple just to get the moisture out of it.
Johnny Appleseed spread a lot of seeds in his lifetime, but most of them
apples that were not very tasty, and were used instead for cider or mash to feed
In those days, for most pioneers it was a question of survival, not enhancing
So are the thousands of older cultivars that didn't withstand shipping or
long storage, or weren't "pretty enough" in someone's eyes, or just didn't
get recognized by a commercial nursery. And they were good apples, some
much better than the half dozen or so cultivars you get in most US grocery
A cross between an ornamental pear of unknown parentage and the Bosc in my
grandparents' backyard. Grandpa helped me make it (I was all of 4 or 5
at the time), and then we grew out the seeds. And it wasn't a bad
pear at all. Finally succumbed to fireblight many years later.
Doubt that... old roads, old fencelines, and most of them don't look
anything like currently favored cultivars.
Sure. Have you tasted some of the "wild" apples being currently imported
for germplasm use? Some really good stuff there.
Yes, because people who actually bother to name cultivars are likely to be
working with a subset of plants that have something they're trying to
improve upon. But chance seedlings play a part, too.... go back
in the parentage and you'll find a lot of "unnamed seedling x cox's orange
pippin" sorts of entries.
And I'd argue, as an old educator, that learning that everything doesn't work
the way you think it might is a much more important lesson (in gardening,
in life, in science) than success at growing a "kit tree".
Doesn't take that much effort to grow a seedling tree to bearing size, if
they can make it through the winter in a planter (a relatively hostile
environment.) Back to the OP's question... insulate that planter, cuddle it
up against the house, and make sure it doesn't dry out or have standing water
in it this winter. Then enjoy what you get with your kids.
Me? I'm a retired botanist. My grandfather, who originally got me interested
in gardening, used to take me on day trips for such things as hunting for
the stump of the first 'Delicious' apple tree, or over to look at the
crab apple test orchard a friend ran. Learning to look and examine and
ask questions and perservere are good life lessons you can learn from a
little amateur plant breeding, imo.
First of all, I grow a goodly number of these heritage apples, so you
missed my point.
Not sure which ones you are suggesting. Where can I find out more about them?
No arguement there. However, I just want to point out that the number of
successes of chance seedlings is not that great. The Cox's Orange Pippen
(which I grew until it died last year) has been bred into many other
of which I still have it as part of my Freyberg apple.
OK. What is more rewarding? Sticking a seed into the ground, or grafting a
I think the seed planting sounds more like a 'kit'.
That's the point. What attachment can you have to something that can be
grown with about the same effort as a carrot.
In the real cold climates, I would bury the pot for added protection.
1) The seed is a DNA combination of the top portion of the tree holding your
apple, and the DNA of another tree somewhere nearby - and if it is a
commercially grown apple, it was likely one of the nearby trees was in the
2) many apple tops are grafted onto rootstocks, and your variety may have a
weak disease susceptible root, or the variety has a small root that doesn't
support a full tree of that type of apple without pinching.
3) I believe most apples are hardy in the DC area - so it should grow.
4) My father, a county agent, often said that you could never tell what kind
of apple you were going to get from an apple seed (Something about the fruit
not being the same from a seed as from a parent, even when the two parents
are of the same variety.)
so plant it, and see what happens.
If it survives the rabbits, the deer, the kids, poor soil and planting, and
the pollution, it will probably grow.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.