While popular choices like aloe vera, spider plant, and golden porthos can be purchased inexpensively, do you know that you can grow handsome houseplants from produce you purchase from the grocery store? By using fruit and vegetable parts that are typically tossed away – seeds, pits, cuttings – you can cultivate visually-striking and unusual indoor plants, all for free. You’ll need an ample amount of patience for this project, but there is something so absolutely rewarding about nurturing a plant from dormant seed to thriving living organism.
Reaching a height of 25 feet outdoors, the apple tree can actually be grown in miniature in a container indoors or set out on a patio. While it’s best to source your seeds from a variety of apple that is grown locally or in similar climates, apples are “extreme heterozygotes” – their genetic makeup is combined randomly. This means that if you plant a seed from a Fuji apple, you might end up with a Gala tree. Keep in mind that apple trees are not self-pollinating, so your apple tree will likely never bear fruit.
- When the apple is ripe, cut it in half and harvest the seeds at its core with a sharp knife. The seeds need to be dry, so place them, spread apart, on a paper towel out of direct sunlight for a day or two.
- Apple seeds also require ‘after-ripening’, a period of dormancy in cool temperatures before they will germinate. Gather the seeds and place them in a sealable container, like a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, and stow them in the refrigerator. Mark your calendar – they will need to stay put for 70 to 80 days.
- After the chill period has passed, it’s finally time to germinate. Enfold the seeds in moistened peat moss or paper towels, put it back in the container and return it to the fridge. Once a week, check the progress of the seeds and remoisten the growing medium as needed.
- When the seeds sprout taproots, which can take a month or more, it’s time to move them to sandy loam soil, roots facing down. A smaller pot will do for now but apple trees will eventually need a large container to grow in, a minimum of 18” – 22” in diameter with a volume of 11 to 16 gallons.
- Place in a warm location that receives full sun. Apple trees are thirsty beings, so check the soil moisture at least twice a week and even more frequently during hot spells.