How to Root a Cutting From a Japanese Maple

Plant Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in moist, well-drained soil, in a sunny but sheltered spot near a building, wall or fence. This ornamental tree grows to a height and spread of 15 to 25 feet, with a dense, mounded canopy that makes a lovely statement in the home landscape. Japanese maple is most successfully propagated from seed or grafting, according to the University of Connecticut, but can also be rooted from stem cuttings of the most recent year's growth.

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Root cuttings from Japanese maples.

Step 1

Take cuttings from soft, new wood in May or June, in early morning when the Japanese maple's sap is moving slowly. Fill medium-sized pots with moist, soil-less potting mix. Fill a bowl with ice and moisten a few paper towels, keeping them nearby.

Step 2

Cut several 6-inch, soft wood stems from healthy branches. Test the twigs with your fingers for flexibility. They should be light-greenish brown, while last year's wood will be stiffer and darker brown. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle, not straight across, to leave the largest surface possible for absorbing rooting hormone and water.

Step 3

Strip leaves and buds from the bottom third of the Japanese maple cuttings. Wrap them in wet paper towels and place them in the bowl of ice. This will keep them from drying out before you root them. Don't let them stay on the ice for more than a few hours.

Step 4

Dip the bottom third of the cut ends in rooting hormone. Tap off the excess. Plunge the cuttings into the potting mix 2 to 3 inches deep. Tamp the mixture down with your fingers to ensure good contact and close up air spaces.

Step 5

Set the containers in clear plastic bags, securing the tops with twist ties. Place the containers in bright, indirect light, in a warm room. Open the bags and mist cuttings every few days with a spray bottlle of water, sealing the bag afterwards to keep interior humidity high. Tug lightly on the cuttings after four weeks. If they resist, they are establishing good roots.