Ornamental Japanese maples have become very popular because of their small size and unusual leaf coloration. Growing Japanese maples from seed isn't difficult. After germination, the trees must be grown in protected conditions until they reach around a foot tall. Once transplanted outside, Japanese maples do very well outdoors in zones 5 through 8. However, you can grow Japanese maples in pots in colder areas as long as you bring the pots into a protected area that doesn't drop much below 20 degrees F in the winter. Japanese maples are also very popular as bonsai trees. Growing a Japanese maple from seed will allow you to do unusual early training to create unusual bonsai shapes.
Seeds for the Inaba Shidare will grow into a compact, mounded 8 to 10 foot shrub. This particular variety of Japanese maple has a twisting branch pattern with summer purple-red leaves that turn orange in the fall. With proper pruning, this bush will provide good color in the summer and fall with a nice silhouette in the winter. Like most other Japanese maple, the Inaba Shidare will do well in zones 5 to 8.
The Inazuma variety of Japanese maple will grow to rounded tree that is around 20 feet high and 15 feet wide. Foliage on the Inazuma starts out as purplish red in spring. By summer, the leaves will turn green and eventually turn to a deep red in the fall. Inazuma will grow well in zones 5 to 8.
The Ornatum variety of Japanese maple grows to around 12 feet tall with about a 12 foot horizontal spread. This variety of maple tends to do well with multiple trunks. The overall growth pattern of the Ornatum is a globe pattern forming from multiple trunks. The leaves of this tree are red in the summer, turning to a deep burgundy red in the fall. The Ornatum does very well in zones 5 through 8.