Growing Fruit Trees From Seeds

You can save big bucks growing peaches, apricots and nectarines from seeds. Growing fruit trees from seeds is remarkably easy on you and your wallet!

| June/July 2008


You can grow delicious peaches on your own trees that you start from seeds.

Photo by William D. Adams

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.

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.

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.

5/23/2016 10:50:40 AM

Hi from a Canadian beginner. I found a 1inch tree growing in early spring, in an downtown planter of roses. The pit was beside it still so I'm not sure if it's peach or necterine but I scooped it up in a paper cup .After it was about 3inches tall I planted it in the garden on the south side where it is now 18inches high !!!! When do I start nipping the top to cause it to spread out flat across the wall? Thanks

9/5/2014 12:18:12 PM

My apricots just began to sprout last week and some are 3 inches tall, while the others are 5-6 inches tall. Does anyone know how often I should be watering them, and how much water I should give them? I don't want to kill them!

9/5/2014 12:17:08 PM

My apricots just began to sprout last week and some are 3 inches tall, while the others are 5-6 inches tall. Does anyone know how often I should be watering them, and how much water I should give them? I don't want to kill them!

9/4/2014 9:07:27 AM

Thanks for this great article. I have never grown a peach tree from seed but I have one that was growing as a sapling under an old peach tree. Older peach trees are often a good place to look as they are often of older non commercial varieties that are no longer produced today. This also means they often have interesting and unusual tastes, often superior to anything you can get in a supermarket. Abandoned orchards are a good place to start. If nobody harvests the fruit, they fall to the grow and and quite often sprout of their own accord. Peach saplings are quite easy to dig up as they are extremely forgiving, even if you do accidentally damage their roots (which i did). I found this little tree in among the brambles and other undergrowth that would probably havechoked and killed it had I not taken it out. I took it to my garden and it produced flowers and fruits after three years. I have another little one of a different variety planted next to it now and am looking forward to fruit from that too.

8/11/2014 12:36:22 PM

I saw a youtube video that said to put the seed in a wet paper towel inside a plastic bag

1/16/2014 6:31:58 PM

Here in NE Kansas (zone 5) we can grow peaches, apples, mulberries, grapes etc.. with no special care. I would strongly encourage everyone to grow seedlings if you have the room and the time because that is how we get new varieties. Grafting is great to and we do that here but keep in mind we only graft over the fruit that tastes bad

10/22/2013 2:47:23 PM

I have 1 inch high mulberry tree seedlings in a pot and live in Ontario, Canada what do I do with them in winter? We are in zone 5.

7/30/2013 1:12:29 AM

Not all paw paws are tropical fruit. The pawpaw Asimina triloba  is the largest edible fruit that is native to the United States. Pawpaws are indigenous to 26 states in the U.S., in a range extending from northern Florida to southern Ontario and as far west as eastern Nebraska. 

7/29/2013 5:27:11 PM

I am looking for advise. Am I better off planting peaches from seed or seedling root stock.

I am leaning toward seedling so I can be shure I get a good dwarf variety, that will thrive in zone 5 or 6.

Any advise??

5/8/2013 8:35:47 AM

I saved, and dried various pits last fall, and kept them in the fridge over the winter. Should I still follow the steps above? Ie; crack, soak, plant, and re-refridgerate? There is not than much room in my fridge . . . If I decide to just plant them, should I keep the jar closed and in a dark, coolish place in my apartment? Thoughts, anyone?

Sandra Warren
11/19/2012 5:56:52 PM

I live in northern Indiana, where paw paws grow wild in the woods. what kind of paw paws do you have?

Sasha Densikoff
11/18/2012 9:12:56 AM

for Kathleen Fritz: Paw paws like two main things. Well drained soil and warmth. many other people have the best success by growing them up against a brick wall, as it absorbs the warmth from the sun and radiates it back at night, keeping it warm, and it can help with too much water due to the warm, dry bricks and concrete beneath it. if you are in a frost zone, forget ever growing paw paws. They're a tropical fruit only.

8/28/2011 4:57:04 PM

I was wondering; can you do the same process with cherries.

Faith Britton
8/27/2011 7:56:48 PM

Drying and cracking the pits is not necessary. Tonight, I transplanted 24 peach trees to my new orchard area from pits that were thrown into my flower bed during last falls canning season. Each was about 2-ft tall with nice root systems. Other than a wind blown covering of fall leaves, nothing special was done to the pits. I just tossed them out the back door and that was it. There are also about 15 freestone trees around the henhouse from the year before. Hopefully, I can get them transplanted in the next couple weeks.

Kathleen Fritz
8/27/2011 8:53:58 AM

Do you have any tips for growing pawpaw trees? I have tried several times to grow these. After the tree gets started then they just seem to die. I have even tried putting them in a pot for awhile but that doesn't seem to do any good. Can you give me some tips on this? Thanks.

mit ailbu
7/5/2011 1:16:22 AM

Wanda, I love mullberries, but you should look a little closer. I haven't been able to put one in my mouth since I saw how many worms are in them. If you pick them and put them in a bowl of water an let them sit awhile, you will have little white woms floating everywhere. Yuck! Birds do love them, and then they poo purple goo all over everything. They are very messy. If you have a big piece of land where you can plant it away from your house and you don't mind eating little white worms, I say go for it.

mit ailbu
7/5/2011 1:11:16 AM

I have a nectarine tree and a peach tree growing next to one another and they cross polinate every year. The nectarines are like mana from Heaven. If I plant a pit from one of those nectarines, will the fruit on the new tree be like the fruit I love, or will it go back to the normal parent nectarine tree?

Brian Whary
6/11/2011 1:11:04 PM

Regarding the peach tree fruit question, once your tree is of bearing age, you must limit the amount of fruit that sets on each branch, especially if it's thinner than a pencil. I usually start with a thinning of 4 inches between peaches, then I increase it to 6-8 inches after the annual June fruit drop. Peaches are so prolific fruit bearers that they will often set 40 peaches or more on one branch. If you leave it all on the branch the tree won't be able to ripen all that fruit. Thinning also red78uces thae opportuinity for diseases or fungus to spread from peach to peach.

5/21/2011 9:41:02 PM

I have a peach tree I assume its self pollinating and I started from seed its is about 8-9ft tall and is 4yrs old. This is the 2nd year it has beared fruit lot of it. The peaches get a little bigger than a golf ball but never seems to mature big enough to be eaten. Is there something I can do so I can get the fruit to fully mature. I reside in Charlotte, NC

9/2/2010 7:09:43 PM

I have a peach tree question. About a year ago, I was eating a peach and surprisingly the pit was already sprouting! Well, I stuck it in the fridge for a week, then planted it in a paper cup. I've transplanted it as it's grown and now it's about three feet high and lives in a pot on my porch. I'd like to get it in the ground eventually, but because the climate and the wild life around my home, I'm reluctant to put it in the ground just yet. It's going on fall now, and I'd like it to winter over in it's pot. Do I need to do anything special for it this winter? Does it need a period of time where the temp is cold, or can I just bring it in the house?

The Herbangardener
8/1/2009 8:27:18 PM

This is a great article, and it's what prompted me to save seed from local peaches and plums last year, and grow my own fruit trees! I followed the instructions outlined in the article, and it worked perfectly! I ended up cracking the seeds with a hammer on the sidewalk (just hammer the edge of the seed to crack it in two). I had tried cracking them with a nut cracker, and the nut cracker BROKE! My seeds took about a month longer in the fridge to sprout, so I was getting discouraged...but lo and behold, they eventually did sprout, and now I have 18 peach trees and 35 plums! The Herbangardener

James Beistle
4/26/2009 12:19:37 AM

Mullberry trees grow to be quite large. They are found all over the souther USA and great for shade and birds love them ... fruitless mullberrie trees make for great shade ... even diabetics can throw a few of these wonder berries into a bowl of cerial. We need to know about care to deal with bores in fruit trees without strong chemicals that may linger in the soil or be passed to the fruit or eco system niches "birds" thanks ... Mother Earth has been my source for over thirty years ... can remember but I at one time had the first issue ... the good ole days ...

9/11/2008 2:00:31 PM

wanda, there are several different kinds of mulberry trees there are also fruitless and fruited the fruited ones have varigated edges and they come in black, red and white fruit around where i live the best way to get starts ive found is by digging up a rooted sucker of the kind u like and planting it. they can grow very tall very fast so you have to be agressive with your triming other wise they will be a bigg messy shade tree. they really dont have showy flowers and the flowers tend to look llike those that come on a birch tree in the spring. thats what turns into the fruit.if u have any more q i can try to answer what i know p.s. they originated in china

8/2/2008 6:26:35 PM

I would like to know what a Mulberry Tree looks like, and where to get them and how to care for them and where they come from....and do they have to be a male and a female to produce.....The berries are so sweet, if I remember correctly.....and I do not remember what they look like or if they had flowers in the spring....Mother Earth News can you help me with this information and possibly others like myself...

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