Maple trees come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: outstanding fall color. Find out how to grow a maple tree in this article.
How to Grow a Maple Tree
In addition to planting nursery-grown maple trees, there are a couple of ways to go about maple tree growing:
Growing maple trees from cuttings
Growing maple trees from cuttings is an easy way to get free saplings for your garden. Take 4-inch (10 cm.) cuttings from the tips of young trees in midsummer or mid-autumn, and remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem. Scrape the bark on the lower stem with a knife and then roll it in powdered rooting hormone.
Stick the lower 2 inches (5 cm.) of the cutting in a pot filled with moist rooting medium. Keep the air around the plant moist by enclosing the pot in a plastic bag or covering it with a milk jug with the bottom cut out. Once they take root, remove the cuttings from their coverings and place them in a sunny location.
Planting maple tree seeds
You can also start a tree from seeds. Maple tree seeds mature in either spring to early summer or late fall, depending on the species. Not all species require special treatment, but it’s best to go ahead and treat them with cold stratification to be sure. This treatment tricks them into thinking winter has come and gone, and it’s safe to germinate.
Plant the seeds about three-quarters of an inch (2 cm.) deep in moist peat moss and place them in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days. Place the pots in a warm location when they come out of the refrigerator, and once they germinate, place them in a sunny window. Keep the soil moist at all times.
Planting and Caring for Maple Trees
Transplant seedlings and cuttings into a pot filled with good quality potting soil when they are a few inches tall. Potting soil provides them with all of the nutrients they will need for the next couple of months. Afterward, feed them with half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer every week to 10 days.
Fall is the best time for planting maple tree seedlings or cuttings outdoors, but you can plant them anytime as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Choose a location with full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Dig a hole as deep as the container and 2 to 3 feet (61-91 cm.) wide. Set the plant in the hole, making sure the soil line on the stem is even with the surrounding soil. Burying the stem too deeply encourages rot.
Fill the hole with the soil you removed from it without adding fertilizer or any other amendments. Press down with your foot or add water periodically to remove air pockets. Once the hole is full, level the soil and water deeply and thoroughly. Two inches (5 cm.) of mulch will help keep the soil moist.
Don’t fertilize the tree until the second spring after planting. Use 10-10-10 fertilizer or an inch of composted manure spread evenly over the root zone. As the tree grows, treat it with additional fertilizer only if needed. A maple tree with bright leaves that is growing according to expectations doesn’t need fertilizer. Many maples have problems with brittle branches and wood rot if forced to grow too fast.