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How to Grow Japanese Maple from Seed

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Homeowners and gardeners of every experience level cherish the Japanese maple tree for its beautiful ornamental value. During the springtime, the deciduous Japanese maple tree exhibits bright red leaves that later turn green during the summer months. The leaves can range in color from yellow, red or orange during the fall season.

Harvest Japanese maple tree seeds when they turn brown. The Japanese maple seeds are attached to wing-like structures. Break these wing-like structures off the seeds and discard.

Place the Japanese maple seeds into a brown paper bag and keep them in a dark and cool location until late winter.

Remove the seeds from the brown paper bag three months before the last predicted frost date. Soak the Japanese maple seeds in a bowl of hot water for 24 hours. The hot water soak will soften the outer hard shell of the seeds.

Pour 1/2 cup of sand and 1/2 cup of peat moss into a plastic bag. Poke three to four small holes into the plastic bag with a pencil point. Dampen the soil mixture lightly with water and add the Japanese maple seeds. Ensure the bagged potting mix surrounds the seeds on all sides.

Store the bagged soil and seeds in a 40-degree refrigerator for 100 days.

Select a planting site that receives partial shade in the afternoons. Loosen 12 inches of top soil with a garden hoe. Spread a four-inch layer of organic compost such as peat moss or aged manure onto the loosened soil. Mix the compost into the soil with a shovel. Leave the prepared soil undisturbed for 10 days before planting the Japanese maple seeds.

Place the Japanese maple seeds on top of the prepared soil. Cover the seeds with a 3/8-inch layer of soil and then water thoroughly until the soil is moist. Allow the soil to dry out in between each watering.

Feed the Japanese maple a slow-release liquid fertilizer after the seed germinates from the soil. Pull any growing weeds from the growing Japanese maple tree with your hands.

Water the growing Japanese maple trees one to two times per week, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.


There are many varieties of Japanese maple trees. When sowing the seed, refer to the spacing needs of your particular variety to eliminate the need to transplant later.

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