The leaves of the Japanese maple have a mesmerizing beauty. This is the reason why many people want more of them in their gardens.
You can propagate the Japanese Maple by cuttings, grafting, or seeds. The easiest way is by cuttings, but this has some disadvantages. A more reliable way is by grafting, but it is quite complicated.
In this article, we will talk about the three main propagation methods of Acer palmatum. I also recommend that you read the Japanese Maple Planting and Growing Guide to keep up to date.
The best time to make Japanese maple cuttings is early spring. Take cuttings when it is warm but the tree has not yet begun to grow.
Cut cuttings 6 to 8 inches long from the middle part of the crown. Cut with sharp and sterile pruning shears.
Next, prepare plastic pots 4-5 inches wide. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. The number of pots should be equal to the number of cuttings.
Fill the pots with the sterile seedling substrate. It is better to buy quality, disease-free substrate because this will determine how many cuttings will take root.
Clean the bottom half of the cuttings from the buds if there are any. Dip the bottom of the cuttings in the rooting gel. Then plunge the cuttings into the soil half of their length each in a separate pot.
Transfer the pots to the greenhouse outside. Be sure to shade the greenhouse. Keep the cuttings out of direct sunlight.
Water the soil in the pots so that it is sufficiently moist. Then keep the soil slightly moist all the time.
If the cuttings appear on the leaves then the rooting is successful. Young maples should be in the greenhouse until the end of the season.
In the fall, take them out of the greenhouse and place them in a wind-protected location. Do not transplant the maples into the ground or larger pots until the following spring.
Cuttings are the easiest and fastest way to get new Japanese Maples. However, there is a disadvantage here, the roots of these maples are more susceptible to overwatering and root rot.
This is due to the fact that the tree from which the cuttings are taken is a cultivar and has a worse immunity and health than a species specimen. Therefore, grafting a variety branch onto a wild rootstock is a more reliable combination.
Grafting a Japanese maple onto a strong rootstock gives very good results. The base of such a tree is very resistant to adverse environmental conditions and the more delicate upper part remains safe.
Seedlings of Acer palmatum subsp. palmatum are best suited as a rootstock. They are most compatible with varietal Japanese maples and have very good health.
Use 2-4-year-old potted rootstocks. The stem thickness of the rootstock should be at least half an inch.
The best time to graft is early spring. Japanese maple should be in dormancy. Cut the scion at least a quarter of an inch thick.
Next, cut the bark off one side of the scion. Make the cut quickly from the middle of the length of the scion to the bottom.
Cut the bark on the rootstock to the same size as the cut on the scion. Place the slices of the scion onto the rootstock and wrap grafting tape around it.
Place the maple pots in a shaded greenhouse. As soon as the scion leaves have grown, cut off the part of the rootstock that is above it.
In the fall move the young maples outdoors. The next spring they can be planted in a new location.
Propagation of Japanese maple by sowing seeds is probably the most interesting way. In this case, you will not get an exact copy of the variety from which the seeds were taken. But some seedlings will have unique characteristics.
Usually, the seeds mature in the fall and that’s when you have to harvest them. Next, dry the seeds a bit in a dark, dry place. Place them in a cardboard box and move them to an unheated room, such as the garage, for the winter.
In early spring, sow the seeds in trays with sterile seedling soil. Water the soil well and move the trays to the greenhouse. Keep the soil always slightly moist.
In a week or two, the seedlings will appear. Do not transplant them until next spring.