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How to Plant Sugar Maple Trees From Seed

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Maple seeds fall from the tree in autumn.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

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 Will Need

  • Samaras
  • Sealable plastic bag
  • Sand
  • Small trowel

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.