I grew seven apple seedlings from seeds. Now in October these seedlings are about three to four inches tall. What can I do to keep them safe in winter time? Bring them inside or leave them outside for winter ? I live in Mississauga Ontario.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
Growing from seed is always an exciting experience. The apple(s) from which you harvested seed were probably open-pollinated where the bees, wasps or other flying insects, visited various apple tree blossoms, therefore transferring a variety of genetic material to the parent tree. Because of this, you may find that each of the seeds produces a unique apple tree and fruit which is quite an exciting result in itself.
Most fruit trees, and apple trees in particular, require a chilling time in order to stimulate bud development come Spring. For this reason we would recommend plunging the seedling pots in the garden for the winter. A cold frame would be ideal, otherwise some protection such as chicken wire would protect them from rabbit or other damage.
The following website, will explain the need for chill time. https://www.davewilson.com/product-information-general/special-topics/fruit-tree-chilling-requirement
We wish you well with your future apple orchard.