It is official. My momma is looking for a house to move in to. If everything goes well, she will get the house in August and move everything that we want to move over the next few months afterwards. So this is my last chance to grow a sugar maple before I move. Unfortunately, the soil in the pot outside that has the elm sapling in it from last year (an elm seed just happened to fall into the pot and grow) is frozen solid. I mean, yes it is more periodic than all the time now but still, I can't get through frozen solid soil to plant 1 or more seeds. So my mom and dad will buy me some soil to grow the tree or trees in. Maybe they will buy a deep pot too but I don't know.

I have to have at least 1 seed sprout relatively soon. The year before last I did 3 seeds at a time once the soil moistened up from the ice and then waited a week or two before planting new seeds to see if any would sprout. However, none of them took root, not even later on when the ground temperature was warmer.

I already gently feel for the seed taking up most of the non-wing space of the samara as a sign that the seed may sprout. Maybe with this new soil, one or more seeds will sprout unlike the past 2 years (first, outdoors after soil moistened from ice, then indoors (the indoors one looked like it was taking root but it never sprouted)) where I have been lucky to have 1 seed growing its roots. I pick only the brown seeds, even if some of the green seeds also have the seed taking up most non-wing space in the samara. Is that why very few have sprouted because stratification or no stratification itself didn't affect the chance of sprouting (or at least not significantly)?

Should I try growing both the brown seeds (stratified over the winter) and the green seeds (straight from the tree) if the seeds are large enough to see if this has an effect on sprouting?

But other than placing it in a sunny spot, and watching and waiting, is there anything I can do to help the seeds sprout or at least increase the chances of one of them sprouting? The brown ones will likely have already been stratified naturally but as I said before, I haven't noticed a difference in the chance of sprouting between stratified and non-stratified. However, the maples that lasted 3 years before they died, those were grown from non-stratified seeds (straight from the tree on March 21). I know not to water the tree if it has been raining because the soil will be plenty moist. I only water the trees once deeply when I plant them and during dry spells in the summer (even then, I will be less likely to water a sapling in a dry spell than a seedling) because I find the rain of spring and fall to be sufficient for growth.

  • Do you know the exact species of the seed you have? What kind of maple? The answer may depend on the kind of maple. Did you collect the seed, and, if yes, what was the month? How did you store the seed? – VividD Mar 25 '18 at 22:43
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    The kind of maple I am growing is a sugar maple Acer saccharum. During my first 2 attempts, I got the seed fresh from the tree on March 21st with no stratification. During my 3rd and 4th attempt I got the seed fresh from the tree in May and April respectively but planted both in May(I thought it got too cold in April). With my fifth attempt I collected 1 seed in August and stratified it in a bag in the freezer. I also collected seeds outside that were probably a mixture of spring and summer when they fell off the tree. – Caters Mar 26 '18 at 0:29
  • My sixth attempt I collected 10 seeds from multiple months in the spring and summer and wrapped them in a paper towel, again stratifying them but not in the freezer(maybe the freezer was too harsh). This was when I planted a few indoors in the hopes of 1 of them sprouting. This year I plan to plant both seeds I get outside from last spring and summer that were naturally stratified and seeds fresh off the tree as long as the ones fresh off the tree are sufficiently large. The 4th attempt was the last time I got a successful sprouting and the second attempt lasted the longest(3 years). – Caters Mar 26 '18 at 0:33
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    Why not dig seedlings or small trees? They should move easily when dormant. – blacksmith37 Mar 27 '18 at 21:21
  • But I prefer growing from seed. If I grow from seed, I will know whether or not something is preventing growth or bark formation. Plus, I don't really see maple seedlings nearby and how would I know how wide and deep to dig the hole to prevent breaking of roots? And I would have to deal with transplant shock twice. With growing from seed, I would only have to deal with transplant shock once because I have a wide and deep pot that is wide and deep enough for a tree to last for at least 3 years if not longer and would go from potted to in ground instead of ground to pot to ground again. – Caters Mar 28 '18 at 5:08

Have you thought about buying the exact cultivar of sugar maple you want? I think that's what I would do. Otherwise, I agree with the person who said transplant a seedling or small tree. When dormant would be great but I don't think any of the Acers are that picky. Where do you live? Sprouting maple helicopters are a huge nuisance where I live, they're non-native and invasive.


If I understand correct, your question is how to get successful seedlings from Acer seeds.

I can tell you how I get Acer seeds germinated, I have experience with Acer psuedoplatanus, and Acer campestre.

Collect seeds (10-20) when they fall from the tree, this is usually in Fall (Autumn) time, say October. The seeds need to be a bit brown, not green. Put them in a pot with fresh potting soil, about half an inch (1-2 cm) deep, and let the pot stand outside during the winter. In spring the seeds will germinate.

Ask your mom for a bigger pot when they start to grow too big ;-)

  • Is this really that simple? :) Do you have any rough figure for germination rate that you achieved (was it 60%, or perhaps closer to 10%, just want to have some feeling)? – VividD Apr 3 '18 at 11:10
  • I did not experimentally determined germination rate. My advice is to collect 10-20 seeds per pot. – benn Apr 3 '18 at 11:14
  • Cool, thanks! And how many seedlings did you have from 10-20 seeds in the pot? What was the size of the pot? And, was it in Holland? (asking because of hardiness zone) – VividD Apr 3 '18 at 11:18
  • Last October I picked up seeds from Acer campestre, but I don't remember how many (10?). They were put in a ~20 cm (in diameter) pot, and last week one germinated (maybe more to come?). Yes it is in the Netherlands. – benn Apr 3 '18 at 11:29
  • But I have gotten successful sprouting in the spring without stratification. And my longest lasting attempt was from seeds that weren't stratified. Stratified seeds which I tried sprouting, haven't sprouted. – Caters Apr 3 '18 at 18:06

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