I would like to buy maple tree seeds, and how do I grow them?

(Question)

I’m looking for maple tree seeds that will grow year-round.  Thank you for your help.

 

(Answer)

Toronto Master Gardeners encourage gardeners to do research on where to purchase stock and supplies. Our mandate is then to advise clients on the cultivation, and nurture, of your plants.  In your case, you could even possibly collect ripe maple seeds this coming fall from trees of your choice.  The colloquial term for maple seeds is “keys”.  Each ripe seed pod is structurally designed with an attached “wing”, which propels the seed to fall to the earth with a strong, spiral flight, to better secure a potential germinating location.

Starting plants from seed is very satisfying and rewarding. In a natural setting, most seeds sown in the fall will begin to germinate the following spring.  More visible, and immediate, results are possible by employing a few techniques to mimic the seasonal changes that induce seed germination.

One way to coax the outer coating of the maple “key” to open is to soak it overnight in water.  Watch for the outer cover to naturally loosen and open.  Some gardeners may even nick the surface to promote opening of the seed coat being careful not to damage the interior seed embryo.

Next you want to convince the seed that it’s been through a cold, winter dormant period: place your seeds in dampened (not wet) peat moss and store in a self-sealing plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. Check regularly for signs of germination — which can be quick, or slow, so a good dose of gardener’s patience might be required. Strong root growth is very important, so wait for robust root germination. You may then move seedlings to a brighter location, and nurse them indoors in a well-drained planting medium.  Keep them growing here for a few months before planting outdoors. 

Then give the young plants as much sun light as possible, so the new leaves can generate a vigorous photosynthesis cycle, to work in concert with your fledgling tree’s root system.  And enjoy the pleasure of nurturing your tree over the years to come !