Japanese Red Maple Trees from Seed

Feb. 17, 2010

I’ve gotten permission to reprint this article by Mike McGroarty from FreePlants.com. It’s an excellent ‘how to’ especially with the accompanying video.

Most Japanese Red Maple Tree seeds ripen in the fall. Watch the tree and wait for the Japanese Maple seeds to turn brown. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they are brown and can be easily removed from the tree. The seeds are attached to a wing, it’s best to break the wing off before storing or planting the seeds.

Japanese Red Maple Tree seeds have a very hard outer coating as do many ornamental plants. Under natural conditions the seeds would have to be on the ground for almost two years before they would germinate.

Japanese Red Maple Tree Seeds

All that happens the first winter is the moisture softens the hard outer shell, and the second winter germination is beginning to take place.

In order for all of this to happen in the proper sequence so the seedlings actually sprout at a time of the year when freezing temperatures or hot summer sun doesn’t kill them, takes a tremendous amount of luck.

Japanese Red Maple SeedsYou can improve the odds by controlling some of these conditions, and shorten the cycle. Once you have picked the seeds and removed the wing just place them in a paper bag and store them in a cool dry place until you are ready for them. You don’t want to plant your seeds out in the spring until the danger of frost has past. Here in the north May 15th is a safe bet.

Stratifying Japanese Maple Seeds

If May 15th is your target date you should count backwards on the calendar 100 days. That will take you to about February 5th if my math is correct. On or about the 100th day prior to your target planting date, take the seeds and place them in a Styrofoam cup or other container that will withstand some hot water. Draw warm to hot water from your kitchen faucet and pour it over the seeds. Most of the seeds will float, just leave them in the water overnight as the water cools down. 24 hours later most of the seeds will have settled to the bottom of the cup.

Japanese Red Maple Seed in Plastic BagDrain off the water. Place the seeds in a plastic bag with a mixture of sand and peat or other suitable growing mix. Even light potting soil will work. The peat or soil should be moist, but not soaking wet. Poke some holes in the bag so there is some air circulation, and place the bag in your refrigerator for a period of 100 days.

After 100 days you can plant the seeds outside. If you have timed it correctly, you should be at or close to your target planting date.

Japanese Red Maple BedTo plant the seeds just sow them on top of a bed of well drained topsoil or sterilized potting soil, and cover with approximately 3/8″ of soil. Water them thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out completely before watering thoroughly again.

If you water them frequently, not only do you stand a chance of the seeds rotting from being too wet, but you will also keep them cool, which will slow down the germination process.

Once they start to germinate provide about 50% shade to keep the sun from burning them. Snow fence suspended about 30″ above the bed will provide about 50% shade. Japanese Maples will tolerate some shade so it isn’t too important to transplant them too quickly. Depending on how close together they are, you might be able to leave them in the same bed for one or two growing seasons. Don’t transplant until they are completely dormant.

Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. His website, FreePlants.com is loaded with useful  information. Article provided by http://gardening-articles.com

Watch as Mike explains the process of Japanese Maple Propagation:

Mikes website is amazing, with tons of free gardening and propagation info, plus a fantastic course on how to run your own backyard nursery. I own it myself. Visit FreePlants.com

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5 Responses to “Japanese Red Maple Trees from Seed”

  1. Dreamcatcher says:

    Hi – I to have bee following Mikes website.
    Regarding stratifications of maple seeds. Most refer to harvesting ripened
    seeds in the fall. I am collecting seeds in the spring.
    I have collected the “Motherload” of all types of maples. From October Glory, Autumn
    Blaze and every type of Japanese version I have found and it is April.
    Are spring seeds acceptable for stratification ?
    When should I start the process ?
    Should I store them dry ? 100 days would bring me into August.
    Thanks for any help you may offer.

    • Trisha says:

      Hey! Dont you love Mikes site. If you havent signed up for his newsletter, its really good! On to your question. If youre collecting seeds in the spring that have been outside all winter, Id say the cold period requirement has most likely been satisfied, and you can just go ahead and sow the seeds outside.

      Stick with your zone’s natural warm/cold cycles. If you want to collect and store seeds, do it in the fall, store them in a dry place, and put them in the fridge as the instructions show, 100 days before your last frost date. Here in zone 5, around February. Bring them out in May and plant them out (dont forget that shade, its important!)

  2. Mattie says:

    This was EXTREMELY HELPFUL! Thank you!

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