How to Grow Custard Apple from Seed : Sugar Apple Seed Germination

This article shows how to grow custard apple from seeds at home. You will also know how to germinate custard apple seeds in a paper towel, as I have grown in Sydney, Australia. Custard apple is known by many names including Sugar apple, Cherimoya, Sweetsop, and Sweetsop-Anon. Given below is a simple step-by-step guide on how to grow custard apple plant from seeds.

Custard Apple Tree Grown from Seed
Custard Apple Tree Grown from Seed

Custard Apple Propagation

Whenever I used to eat a custard apple, I always thought whether it would be possible to grow custard apple from seed. I thought, the tree would take several years to produce fruits and only the custard apple plant propagated from a cutting can produce fruits in a few years, so I didn't try. But then, I came to know that a new custard apple tree grown from seed will bear fruits in 2 to 4 years, so I decided to try to grow it from seeds.
Custard apple can be propagated from seeds and cuttings (how to grow custard apple from cuttings). The seeds grown custard apple tree will, however, produce fruits that may be different then the parent tree. The custard apple tree grown from seed will bear fruit in only 2-3 years after planting.

Propagation of sugar apples from seeds is easy and involves a few simple steps as given below.

Seeds Preparation for Germination and Propagation

Custard Apple seeds
Custard Apple seeds
  1. The custard apple seeds are very hard, so they require some preparation before sowing. The success of growing custard apple from seeds depends greatly on proper seed preparation before sowing as the seeds are very hard.
  2. Buy fully ripe custard apple from a grocery store. Take out its seeds and wash them.
  3. Soak the seeds in water in a cup at room temperature for 3-4 days. On the 5th day, throw away any floating seeds as these are not viable.
You can sow the custard apple seeds directly in soil or first germinate them in a paper towel and then plant the germinated seeds in soil.

Seed Germination with a Paper Towel

Follow the following steps to germinate custard apple seeds in a paper towel:
  1. Take a kitchen towel and place seeds on it. Fold the paper to enclose the seeds in it. Spray water on the paper to dampen it and then seal it in Ziploc bag or polythene bag.
  2. Place the bag at a warm place, away from direct sun light.
  3. Open the bag after a few days to see if the germination has started. Spray some water if the paper gets dry. Change the paper if mold develops.
Custard Apple Seed germinated in a Paper Towel
Custard Apple Seed Germinated in a Paper Towel

Sowing The Sugar Apple Seeds Directly in Soil

  1. Take a small pot and fill it with a well-draining soil. You can either use a seed raising soil or make your own. 
  2. Sow the seeds about 1 inch deep keeping about 2 inch separation between them. I mixed potting mix with river sand in equal amount and filled the pot, leaving top 1 inches empty. I placed the 4 seeds on the soil and fill the pot with the soil.
  3. Water well and place the pot in indirect sunlight. Keep the soil damp as the seeds germination require humid and warm environment.
  4. The custard apple seeds germinate quickly (about 3 weeks) in temperatures between  18 and 25°C (64 and 77°F). However, in the varying climate of Sydney, my seeds took almost 8 weeks when 2 out of 4 seeds germinated.
  5. Keep the soil damp by giving water to the developing root system daily.
  6. When the seedlings grow to a height of 3-4 inch, it is time to transplant them.

Custard Apple grown from a seed
Custard Apple grown from a seed

Transplanting the Sugar Apple Seedlings

  1. Tap the pot from all side to make the soil lose and take out the saplings carefully without damaging the roots.
  2. Plant the saplings in a small pot filled with well-draining soil. Make the soil by adding river sand (25%) and compost  (25%) in potting mix (50%) (How to grow custard apple in pot).
  3. Place the planted pot in indirect sunlight for at least 4 weeks, or until the root system is strong enough to transplant the tree to its permanent position.
  4. If growing in a pot, do not plant the sapling in a very large pot. Start with a small pot and transfer to the next pot size when the roots start to emerge from the bottom holes of the pot. This way the plant will be always in a fresh soil getting the needed nutrients.
  5. Always put the pots in a warm position protected from winds.

Planting Custard Apple Plant in Ground

Select the warmest frost-free side of the garden which is most protected from winds. This will protect the soft brittle wood of the tree which is extremely susceptible to wind damage.
If you want to grow custard apple in ground, dig the soil to 1 m depth and break any heavy clay and chunk of soil. Add river sand and compost to avoid root rot; and transfer the plant.

How long will it take to grow custard apple from seeds?

2-3 years after planting the seeds. My potted custard apple tree grown from a seed started to flower in the third year.

Video on Growing Custard Apple from Seed

how to grow custard apple from seeds YouTube Video