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How to grow Japanese acers from cuttings

Updated April 17, 2017

The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and eastern China. The foliage changes in colour through the seasons, making it perfect for any landscape. Rooting Japanese maples from cuttings can be difficult, but it is not impossible. It's important to take cuttings from the tree at the right time of the year; this increases your chance of success.

Fill 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inch) with well-draining potting soil. Water the soil to moisten it, but do not saturate the soil.

Cut 5 to 19 cm (2 to 4 inch) stems from the Japanese maple in mid-spring. This gives the new wood time to slightly harden. Cut the stems at an angle right below the section where the leaf comes out.

Wound the stems near the bottom by removing a thin slice of bark with a sharp knife. Remove all the leaves except for the top two leaves.

Dip the cut ends into a glass of water. Shake off the excess water before dipping the wet ends into rooting hormone. Tap the stems to remove excess rooting hormone.

Insert each stem into a pot of soil. The section you wounded and dipped in rooting hormone should be inserted 2.5 cm (1 inch) into the soil. Place thin sticks or wires into the corners of each pot; these will prevent the plastic bags you'll be placing around the pots from touching the leaves of the plant.

Place each pot into a plastic bag, closing it at the top, and set the pot in a warm bright location. The plastic bag helps hold in the humidity. If mould begins to form, open the bag for an hour or two, allowing ventilation.

Check the soil daily for moisture. Do not allow the soil to dry out.

Inspect each cutting for roots after seven weeks by pulling gently on the stem with your fingers. If you feel a slight resistance, roots have formed. If the stem cutting pulls easily from the soil, replace it and leave it to grow. Check the cutting after another week has passed. Remove the plastic bag when the Japanese maple has rooted. Place the pots in a protected location outdoors. Keep the soil moist, and mist the plants with water.

Things You'll Need

  • 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inch) pots
  • Well-draining potting soil
  • Water
  • Sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Clear plastic bags
  • Thin sticks or wires
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About the Author

Gail Delaney is a writer in South Dakota and has articles published online at various websites. She is the garden editor for BellaOnline, with years of gardening experience. Being the caretaker of her parents led her in the direction of medical issues, especially natural remedies.