The silver maple, also known as the silverleaf maple, is a medium-sized tree that is most common to the Eastern United States, found growing near stream and river banks, in flood plains and around lake shores. The silver maple enjoys rapid growth and a long lifespan – many live 130 years or longer.
Although the silver maple’s seeds are abundant, planting silver maples from seed may be a long and difficult process because the seeds are more temperamental in germinating than cuttings. Cuttings of softwood root quickly and easily, making cuttings the propagation method of choice.
Take softwood cuttings from the silver maple in July or October, preferably in the early morning, using pruning shears or a sharp knife. Select new-growth shoots that you can snap easily when bent. Make sure your cuttings are 4-6 inches long.
Remove the leaves from the lower one-third to one-half of the cuttings. Treat the cuttings with rooting hormone.
Place the cuttings’ “raw” ends in a planter pot in a high-quality potting soil. Make sure that the cutting’s lower one-third to one-half is inserted into the soil. Water the soil thoroughly.
Cover the pot with a plastic bag to keep in moisture. Place the cuttings in indirect sunlight and mist them, keeping the soil moist at all times until they root.
Keep the cuttings in their rooting pot (if it’s large enough) or transplant them into a larger pot after they’ve rooted. If you’re planting multiple cuttings, be sure to space them at least 5-6 inches apart so that all the leaves have unobstructed access to the light.
Allow the cuttings to grow in the pot until the following spring. Make sure there is solid rooting and healthy, new growth before transplanting the silver maples outdoors.
Things You Will Need
- Softwood silver maple cuttings
- Pruning shears or sharp knife
- Rooting hormone
- Small container
- Small planter pot
- High-quality potting soil
- Plastic bag
- Larger planter pot
- 10-10-10 fertilizer (optional)
- For best rooting success, take cuttings from young trees that are around five years old. Cuttings from older, mature trees do not root as well as from younger trees. Instead of softwood, you can also take hardwood cuttings in early winter, but you must store them in a cool place for two months before planting.
- You don't need to fertilize your silver maple. If you want to give your newly-rooted cuttings a little boost after you plant them, however, use a 10-10-10 fertilizer around the tree's drip line once per year in the spring.
- Don't dip the cuttings into the original container for the rooting hormone because this can contaminate the hormone supply. Instead, pour a small amount of the hormone into a separate container and throw away any unused portion.