Japanese Red Maple Tree
Hello, I have purchased some quality Japanese red maple seeds, and I live in the San Diego Ca. area. Is it necessary to cold stratify these seeds, or can I just germinate these seeds in the soil. If I can germinate these in the soil, I would use what type of soil, and of course keep them somewhat in the shade, and water them as needed, then transplant each one into there own pot and grow them as required. Any advice that you could give would be greatly appreciated. I'm interested in a full tree, or even a small 6-8 ft. tree. Or possibly a Bonsai type tree. Thank you in advance for your suggestions.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Some of the higher end Japanese Maples, and Dwarves have seeds that are ,either, sterile or very hard to germinate. Creating a dwarf from an existing tree usually requires grafting.
The best thing to do once your seeds germinate (If they do, since these seeds have notoriously germination rates.) is to find a dwarf tree that is already established and the same age as your seedling. Take the dwarf root stock, and graft your desired top scion to it.
This is how desired Japanese Maples are obtained in nursery. Most of the time, the one that you purchase from seed will be a taller cultivar, often reaching 30 feet for more. Keeping a standard Japanese Maple in container is a bit tedious, and will require yearly pruning and replanting, so obtaining a dwarf variety already grafted will save you quite a bit of trouble.
Now, to germinate seeds- You need to stratify them for about 90 days. This can be done in the refrigerator. Once this is done, you can plant.
Instead of planting them all together and harming them when pulling them apart, it will be best to plant one seed per container. Once you see what survives, then you can repurpose the empty containers.
Passed this, the care is quite straightforward.
This article will help: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/maple/growing-maple-trees.htm