En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
10 ratings

Saturday - December 15, 2007

From: Manhattan, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Seed germination for sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

How can I germinate sugar maple?(step by step, please) I have some seeds but can't make them grow directly outside, so could you recommend a method which takes place inside?! I've heard something about refrigerating or freezing the seeds.

ANSWER:

The seeds of the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, require a period of cold to break the physiological dormancy of the seeds so that they will germinate. This occurs naturally if the seed falls outdoors in its native range. It experiences the winter cold and germinates in the warm spring. Not all the seeds manage to germinate, however, so the tree's strategy is to produce an overabundance of seeds to ensure that it does produce some offsprings. If you take the seeds and treat them under controlled conditions you can increase the germination success significantly. To do this, however, you need to simulate the winter cold by a process called cold stratification. So, here is the process, step by step:

1. Soak the seeds 24 to 48 hours in room temperature water.

2. Cold stratify the seeds (see instructions for cold stratification in Seed Germination Guidelines) for approximately 3 months at 1° to 8 °C (~34° to ~46° F)—the optimum temperature for germination appears to be 1° C (34° F).

3. After the stratification period, you can plant the seeds in the ground or in pots to be transplanted later to the area you choose. You can read more details under "Tips on Sowing and Seedlings" in Seed Germination Guidelines.

You can read a detailed treatise on Acer sachharum by the U. S. Forest Service.


Acer saccharum
 

More Trees Questions

Problems with live oak in Carrollton TX
April 03, 2011 - This past winter was very hard on all the trees in our area in Texas, but added to our stress was the loss of three large Bradford pears just prior to the winter (23yrs old and over 50ft spans of limb...
view the full question and answer

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Removing suckers from Escarpment oak in Austin
October 11, 2010 - I have a small but mature grove of Escarpment Live Oak in my back yard. Five years ago we removed the St. Augustine grass that grew under these oaks and since then root suckers have begun to grow aro...
view the full question and answer

Ashe Juniper not doing well in San Antonio
April 08, 2010 - A large ash juniper (mountain cedar) in my yard appears to be sick or dying. Approximately 1/4 of the canopy has very sparse needles/green foliage stuff and shaggier than normal bark. It's not brown ...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow and Hong Kong Orchid Tree in Spring Branch, TX
December 26, 2006 - We live in Spring Branch, Rt 281 north of San Antonio. We want to plant a Regal Desert Willow tree and a Hong Kong Orchid tree. Will the cold / freeze be a problem? Where locally can we purchase th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center