How to Grow Japanese Red Maple
Trees from Seed
by Michael J. McGroarty
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Most Japanese Maple seeds ripen in the fall. Watch the tree and wait
for the 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, itís best to break the wing off
before storing or planting the seeds. Japanese Maple 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. 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 doesnít kill them, takes a tremendous
amount of luck.
You 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 donít 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.
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.
Drain 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.
To plant the seeds just sow them on top of a bed of well drained
sterilized potting soil, and cover with approximately 3/8Ē
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 30Ē above the bed will
provide about 50% shade. Japanese Maples will tolerate some shade so it
isnít 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. Donít transplant
until they are completely dormant.
Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, http://www.freeplants.com
and sign up for his excellent gardening newsletter. Article
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