Saving and planting Japanese maple seeds, a fun fall project

Written by Doug Oster on .

Japanese maples are beautiful year round, but spectacular when their leaves change. Photos by Doug Oster

Japanese maples trees are usually the last trees in my garden to put on their fall show.

I've got five different varieites in the landscape and love when they change color.

As I was photographing one of the trees I noticed lots of dried seeds hanging from the branches.

Can I get these seeds to sprout? We'll see.

I collected the seeds and did a little research on how to plant them.

Just like anything in gardening, there are lots of different ways to germinate them.

Maple seeds need a period of stratification. Which means they need to be cold for about 100 days before they will sprout.

All I did was try to mimic nature. The seeds were put into a moist planting mix just as if they fell off the tree, wings and all.

These Japanese maple seeds were laid in a moist planting mix then covered with plastic so they don't dry out.

Some gardeners remove the seeds from their casing and soak them in warm water for 24 hours. Other nick the hard seed coat to get moisture into the seeds.

For this batch I didn't do any of that. I covered the seeds with a light coating of more planting mix, labelled them and covered the container with plastic.

It will be left in an unheated greenhouse all winter and we'll see what sprouts in the spring. A protected area around the house outside would work too. Some growers put their planted seeds in the fridge too.

There are plenty of seeds out in the garden, I'll plant a few more times using various techniques and then record the results.

Since the trees are hybrids, they won't grow true. We'll see something different when they sprout and that will be fun.

I'll be interested in seeing what happens and if I get some seeds to sprout I'll put them in a nursery bed and grow them out for a few years. If they look cool, they will be fun to give to gardening friends or plant in my woodlands.


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.