Why do apple seedlings die so easy?

I sprouted a dozen apple seeds and set them about about two weeks ago they have grew to about 3 in tall and now half of them have already died.

I’d think that’s a cultural issue rather than some inherant problem with apple seedlings. Something like too much water.

What do you mean by “set them”? I’d suspect an issue there.

Planted them in the ground that is what you do with seeds.

Either too much or too little water is my guess. Seedlings are fragile, not much in the way of energy reserve.

When I start apple seeds I will start them in a little flower pot and let them get pretty big with a good rootball before
I try and move them to the ground.

Planting seeds is a different proposition than planting sprouted seeds. The roots could have been damaged as they were “set”. Maybe the soil wasn’t packed in enough around the roots or maybe too much. Something wasn’t right because they shouldn’t die easily for no reason.

I planted a dozen this year and just stuck them in the ground and forgot about them. All but one survived but it was the worst looking one when I planted it. I would of been happy if half of them survived.

What were the symptoms?

I have noticed that apple seedling leaves can be surprisingly sensitive. I’m not sure if it varies significantly between different varieties. I’ve scorched the leaves before by setting them out in hot sun for too long before hardening them completely. Even after hardening it seems like they thrive better when shaded from midday sun. I’ve also burned the leaves with a mild aphid soap solution that I use on my other plants. I tried diluting the solution, but it still burned the leaves while becoming ineffective against aphids.

I’ve also found that many pests have preference for eating their tender leaves. They seem to get targeted before most other things. They will strip all the leaves off until the young tree dies. At best they will be setback significantly.

Starting them in little coir or peat pellets helps transplant survivability greatly. I’ve planted them out in 100 degree weather and they did fine.

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I guess that proves it depends on variety/genetics. I’ve been collecting seeds that promise to be cold hardy. Apparently that translates to heat sensitivity, at least for the young.

I’ve started having problems with my apple seedlings over the last week too. I’ve lost 3 already and have two more that look like they are on their way out. One day they were healthy looking and standing proud and the next they started drooping over and shriveling up. I’ve checked the moisture content of the soil and it doesn’t appear any different than others that are doing well. I have others that are drooping, but seem to have stalled growth wise. After they started drooping, I added a grow light over them in case the problem was insufficient light, but that hasn’t perked them back up.