How to Plant Sugar Maple Trees From Seed


Best known for its role in creating maple syrup, the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) grows in New England, New York, the Great Lakes region, the mid-Atlantic region and many Canadian provinces. When mature, sugar maples may reach 100 feet tall. Collect the maple's characteristic winged seed (samara) from local trees and plant the seeds in the spring after a cold stratification period.

Step 1

Gather the samaras, which are the wing-shaped fruit of the maple tree. These ripen and fall off the tree in September to October, according to Cornell University. Typically, only one of the two seeds of the samara will germinate.

Step 2

Place the seeds in a plastic bag filled with sand and store in the refrigerator for 40 to 90 days. Since the seeds need to stratify from 33 to 41 degrees F, your refrigerator should provide a perfect temperature.

Step 3

Prepare a 1/4-inch to 1-inch deep trench in an area of the garden that receives ample sunlight. Lay your maple samaras in this trench, leaving at least 3 inches of space between each one; according to Iowa State University, you don't need to remove the seed from the samara. Then, cover over the trench with 1/4 inch of dirt.

Step 4

Water the newly planted seeds until the ground becomes moist but not soggy. Keep the soil moist with regular watering until the seeds germinate.

Step 5

Thin the seedlings to allow approximately 35 feet of growing space for each young tree. Alternatively, you can transplant young trees to other planting sites once the trees have developed sturdy root balls.

Things You'll Need

  • Samaras
  • Sealable plastic bag
  • Sand
  • Small trowel


  • Cornell University: The Life of a Sugar Maple
  • Iowa State University: Germination of Tree Seed
  • Tree Help: How to Grow a Tree From Seed
Keywords: plant sugar maple, grow sugar maple, grow from seed

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.