Field Maple is native to much of Europe, north to southern Scotland, Denmark, Poland and Belarus, and also south west Asia from Turkey to the Caucasus, and north Africa in the Atlas Mountains.
It grows happily in an open sunny position or in semi-shade. It prefers a good, moist well-drained soil but not acid soils below a pH of 6. It does well on soils derived from chalk or limestone but tends to form a smaller tree under such conditions. It also grows well in heavy clay soils
Frequently found as a shrub in light woodland, especially under oak. It is one of the first trees to colonise chalk grassland. Field Maple can tolerate strong winds but not maritime exposure. It is also tolerant of atmospheric pollution.
Growth is fast once the trees are established, but this later slows down and trees take about 50 years to reach maturity. A good bee plant and it can also be made into an unusual but surprisingly attractive hedge.
The seeds naturally have a deep dormancy which although is not difficult to breakdown does require a degree of patience. Full details on how to do this can be seen below and are also sent with every order.
Field Maple seeds have a deep dormancy within them, this requires a degree of patience to overcome and it is usually quite easy to get high levels of germination if the correct procedures are followed.
First prepare a free draining substrate into which the seeds are to be mixed, this can be a 50/50 mixture of compost and sharp sand, or perlite, vermiculite or even just pure sharp sand has worked well for me. The chosen substrate needs to be moist (but not wet), if you can squeeze water out of it with your hand it is too wet and your seeds may drown and die.
Mix the seeds into the substrate, making sure that their is enough volume of material to keep the seeds separated. Place the seed mixture into a clear plastic bag (freezer bags, especially zip-lock bags are very useful for this -provided a little gap is left in the seal for air exchange) If it is not a zip-lock type bag it needs to be loosely tied.
Write the date on the bag so that you know when the pre-treatment was started.
The seeds first require a period of warm pre-treatment and need to be kept in temperatures of 20 Celsius (68F) for a period of at least 8 weeks . During this time make sure that the pre-treatment medium does not dry out at any stage or it will be ineffective!
Next the seeds require a cold period to break the final part of the dormancy, this is easily achieved by placing the bag in the fridge (4 Celsius or 39F) for 24 weeks. It is quite possible for the seeds to germinate in the bag at these temperatures when they are ready to do so, if they do, just remove them from the bag and carefully plant them up. Seeds that are ready to germinate will have become plump and soft. For small quantities I tend to just leave the seeds in the fridge and remove the germinated ones as they arise and plant them up. I find that this way you can get the maximum number to germinate. After a few months any remaining ungerminated seeds can have the whole warm and cold process repeated again- several times if necessary.
For larger quantities it is easiest to sow the seeds in a well prepared seedbed once the warm and cold pre-treatments have finished and wait for the seeds to germinate. Seeds that are ready to germinate will be plump and soft, if they are not, the pre-treatment is not yet complete or has been ineffective due to incorrect temperatures or incorrect moisture content of the pre-treatment medium.
It has also been found that fluctuating pre-treatment temperatures can give the best germination results and I have myself had excellent results by keeping the mixed seeds in a cold shed through the winter for the cold stage of their pre-treatment and allowing the temperature to fluctuate naturally.
Do not expose newly sown seeds to high temperatures (above 25 Celsius) otherwise a secondary dormancy may be induced and the seeds will not germinate until they have been pre-treated again. Germinated seeds can be planted in deep pots or plug trays in a good quality compost. Keep the seedlings well watered and weed free.
Growth in the first year is usually between 20 and 50 cm and usually trouble free. Allow them to grow for 1 or 2 years before planting them in a permanent position.
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