Growing Japanese Maples from Seed

I don’t think it would be false to say that Japanese maples are one of the most popular plants in the landscape today. With all the interesting leaf shapes and colors it’s easy to see why people like them. I consider myself a fan of Japanese maples and have two young trees in our gardens (one near the side garden entry arbor and one beside the patio) but I wouldn’t mind having more. That’s one reason I was so excited to find over 200 seedlings sprouting up underneath the Japanese maple at my parents house this spring! I had never seen anything like it before underneath their tree but it didn’t take long to figure out what happened.

How to Germinate Japanese Maple Seeds:

In order to get Japanese maples to germinate they like a period of cold called stratification. You can simulate stratification in a plastic bag filled with sand or peat in the refrigerator for a couple months after the seeds turn brown. The refrigerator simulates the cold temperatures of mother nature. This past winter was one of the coldest we have seen in a long time which is why I think so many little Japanese maples germinated. The seedlings were naturally stratified – at least the cold winter was good for something!

Today we spent some time transplanting some of the maples into pots. Each of the seedlings had grown two good leaves beyond the initial cotyledons before we transplanted them. In total we now have 60 Japanese maple seedlings comfortably resting underneath the shade. They will stay there until they are old enough to be planted in larger pots or in the landscape. This is just a fraction of the seedlings, we just ran out of soil to plant them! I can foresee another transplanting of 50-150 seedlings in our future. Now what are we going to do with 200+ Japanese maples?

About Dave

Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.


  1. Great post! I had a similar experiencie with the seeds of my neighbor maple. They are so cool as a gift, soy maybe you can give em to your friends. Please upload more pics of the process!

    Thanx, greetings from Chile, Southamerica!

  2. Plant them and enjoy them of course! There is also that plant swap thing..

  3. Just noticed the same thing under mine. We found one that was about eight inches tall already (last years?) and potted it up for my in-laws. I was worried about transplanting a tree, so I'm pleased you think it'll be fine. There are so many redbuds, maples, oaks and esp. pines all over my yard that I treat them as weeds.

  4. Wow, that is a good bonus. I think they are so pretty.
    You could let one travel south. lol
    I find maple, oak & that crazy thing that has the gum balls on it {name escapes me at present}. I think some are presents of birds.

  5. You could sell them on Craig's List. I'm going to see if such a miracle has happened around my trees.

  6. A long long time ago, a gardener started new maple trees from seed, and then gave the young trees to anyone who wanted them. Those trees are mature now, and Hiawatha, KS is known as the "City Of Maples".

  7. I love this post. I didn't realize you could grow these from seeds. You could send one my way if there's too many for you. 🙂 Can't wait to see what you do with all those seedlings.

  8. I would take one of your seedlings if you still have any. I'd be glad to pay for the seedling, postage, etc. I've been wanting to try one as a bonsai and can't find any small/seedlings around here in Texas. Thanks (my email is in my blogger profile.)

  9. I am going to see if I have any seedlings!
    I can tell that mine was originally grafted. It had been established for over 10 yrs now. Quite beautiful cascading red.
    Will I have any chance at seedlings?

    • You definitely have a chance at seeing some seedlings but keep in mind they may be different than the variety you have. Some maples produce seeds more prolifically than others and weather conditions can effect seed production. Just keep an eye out and see what comes up!

  10. What did you plant them in? Any special compost mix?

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