Japanese Red Maple Tree Propagation

Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) add a splash of fall color to the landscape with bright reds, yellows and even purple leaf. The trees are usually small in size, making an perfect addition to little spaces at the landscape. There are three ways to spread a Japanese maple; by seed, by grafting or by rooting stem cuttings.

Seed Propagation

Seed propagation, nature’s most ancient way of reproducing plants, is a easy means to spread trees that are Japanese. Before planting, Japanese maple seeds have been soaked in boiling water for 24 hours to soften the seed coat. Then they are packed in sand and peat moss in plastic bags and stored for 100 days. Holes from the bag allow for air flow and prevent the seeds from rotting. The seeds are then planted in pots in the spring. Most hybrid varieties aren’t propagated from seed.


Japanese maple trees do not reproduce true to seed. Seed propagation is a viable method for growing new standard Japanese maple tree varieties, but seed propagation means that the offspring will have the genetic material of two individual plants. Some of the cultivated varieties that are bred for special foliage colors and other desirable characteristics have to be propagated by cloning so as to get a true replica of the parent plant. The 2 ways to clone a Japanese maple tree would be by rooting stem cuttings or by grafting.

Rooting Cuttings

Rooting stem cuttings is a easy means to spread trees. Cuttings are considered to be softwood, hardwood, wood, or semi-hardwood. When spreading Japanese maples, softwood cuttings are utilized. Softwood cuttings are taken in spring and early summer from the new season’s growth. The cuttings are placed in a sterile soil medium and kept humid for several weeks. New roots develop from the base of the cutting, developing a new plant equal to the parent plant.


Grafting is a more complicated process than seed propagation or rooting cuttings. A seed-grown Japanese maple plant will be the main stock that will develop into the roots of the tree. A slip, or little part of a branch from the desirable cultivated amount, is grafted onto the main stock. After the graft takes, the branches from the main stock are cut. The slip that has been grafted onto the trunk matures and becomes the top of the tree.

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