How to plant Japanese maple seeds?

Although Japanese maple is most easily propagated by cuttings, layering, or grafting cultivars, multiplying it by seeds is something that can be very educational and entertaining. Also, it is always nice to see a tree grow from the beginning.

so if you would like to know how to sow japanese maple seeds, then I will explain it to you.

Table of Contents

  • 1 When to plant Japanese maple?
  • 2 How to germinate Japanese maple seeds?
    • 2.1 Sowing in pot
    • 2.2 Stratification in the fridge
  • 3 How long do they take to germinate?

When to plant Japanese maple?

Japanese maple blooms in spring

Image – Wikimedia / Sten Porse

El japanese maple, whose scientific name is Acer palmatum, is a type of plant that we find in the temperate climate regions of East Asia, specifically China, Korea and of course Japan. To be more specific, grows in mountainous forests, where temperatures remain mild for much of the year, and in winter frosts and even significant snowfalls are recorded.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because it is a tree -or shrub, depending on the variety- that flowers in spring, and once its flowers are pollinated, its seeds ripen fairly quickly. In fact, it is normal for them to be ready by the middle or end of summer.

The problem is that in order for them to germinate they must be exposed to cold -not extreme- for several weeks. This will awaken the fertilized ovule (or seminal rudiment, as it is also called in botany) that is protected in said seed, and will cause it to sprout. That is, from the time the seed matures until it sprouts, several months pass.

And that’s also worrying, because its viability, that is, the time it remains viable and can therefore germinate without problems, is relatively short. Moreover, if we sow, for example, ten seeds that are more than a year old, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for all of them to germinate.

I would even go so far as to say that only two or three will do it, since apart from their own aging, we must take into account that the germination rate of Japanese maple – even when all the seeds are fresh and viable – is between 20 and 50%. This means that if 100 seeds are sown, for example, the most normal thing is that between 20 and 50 will germinate; and I repeat, as long as these are new and viable. The ‘older’ they are, the more it will cost.

Therefore, I recommend you sow them at the beginning of winter, so that they can germinate in spring.

How to germinate Japanese maple seeds?

Japanese maple seeds ripen early

Image – Wikimedia / KENPEI

There are two ways to do it:

  • Directly potted
  • or stratifying them in the fridge.

Which is the best option? This will depend, to a large extent, on the temperatures in our area during the winter. If we live in an area where they remain low, and where there are even frosts and/or snowfalls, we can plant them in pots and let nature itself be in charge of waking them up.

But if, on the other hand, the winter in our area is mild, or even if the frosts are very weak and punctual, it is best that we stratify them in the fridge.

How is it done? Let’s talk about the steps we must follow in each case:

Sowing in pot

  1. The first thing will be to take a pot, or a forestry tray, and fill it with substrate for acid plants (for sale here!) or with coconut fiber (for sale here!), which also has a low pH and is also perfect for seedbeds as it retains moisture for a long time.
  2. Next, we water.
  3. Then, we take the seeds and, after treating them with a polyvalent fungicide so that the fungi do not destroy them, we will sow them, putting a maximum of two in each pot or in each alveolus.
  4. Then we buried them just a little, no more than a centimeter.
  5. Finally, we leave the pot or forest tray outside, in the shade.

From there, the only thing we will do is water if we see that the land dries out.

Stratification in the fridge

Seeds sown in tupperware


How to stratify seeds step by step

  1. The first step will be to take a tupperware, if possible made of transparent plastic, and fill it with vermiculite or coconut fiber.
  2. Then, we will water, trying to avoid excess water. If we see that it gets waterlogged, we will empty it a little, because the substrate must be moist, but not waterlogged.
  3. Next, what we will do is treat the seeds with polyvalent fungicide , and put them on the freshly watered substrate.
  4. Then, we will cover them with a thin layer of substrate.
  5. To finish, we will cover the tupperware, and we will put it in the fridge. It is very important that we put it in the part where we place the yogurts and others, because it would not be good if they were exposed to too low a temperature.

Once a week we will have to take the tupperware out of the fridge and open it. This will allow the air to be renewed and avoiding -or at least reducing the risk- that fungi appear. Likewise, it will also give us the opportunity to see if the land is dry, in which case we will have to water it.

After about three months, we will plant them in pots and forestry trays, as we mentioned above.

How long do they take to germinate?

Japanese maple has seeds in summer

Like almost everything in life: it depends. If they are new or relatively new, they will probably germinate after two months once spring is established, but if not, they will take longer.

There is no other option but to be patient, and ensure that the seedbed does not dry out or fungi appear, which is why it should be treated with fungicide once a week or at most every 15 days.

As soon as they germinate, they must be kept in the seedbed until the roots appear through the holes in the seedbed.. They will then be planted in larger pots with acidic plant substrate, coconut fibre, or if you prefer, mixing 70% akadama with 30% kiryuzuna.

We hope you have luck with your seeds.

How to plant Japanese maple seeds?

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