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Why Are Japanese Maples Grafted?

Grafting is a process where a planter combines two plants. These plants merge together to create one plant. This is one of the best ways to get a new variety of plants and an easier way to start trees. Often, you will see this done in orchards to get new types of fruit trees. However, you may also see many Japanese Maples are grafted as well. Why? It is one of the best ways to ensure that it is a Japanese Maple and that it grows well. So in this article we answer the question: why are Japanese maples grafted?

Let’s get into to it!

Why Are Japanese Maples Grafted?

When a planter starts a tree from seed, there is almost no way to tell what it will actually be until it grows. This is also a tree that can be very hard to grow even with the right seed. Most hobbyists and commercial sellers choose to graft Japanese Maples for this reason.

There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese Maples, each with different sized and shaped leaves. Anyone can grab a seed from the tree, but that does not mean the tree will be an exact replica. Grafting ensures that you get the look you want, and it is as close to an exact replica as you can get.

Grafting is always done when a species is too hard to start from seed or from cuttings. Japanese Maples fit into this category. It is rare to see Japanese Maples started from seed. You will see that many people choose this method to start their collection.

Do Japanese Maples Need To Be Grafted?

If you are looking for a specific type of Japanese Maple it is always better to graft. You can absolutely start this tree from seed. However, what you need to keep in mind is that if you get a seed from a nursery plant it will almost certainly look different than the parent plant. This is because most nursery Japanese Maples are grafted and will not produce the same look.

High Graft Vs. Low Graft Japanese Maple

Once you decide to graft a Japanese Maple, it is time to determine whether you should do a high or low graft. What is the difference? A tall graft shows off the tree faster, and it is visibly more appealing than a low grafted Maple. With a high graft, there is a more reliable outcome as far as looks go.

However, you may also consider a low graft if you are willing to be patient for the outcome. This has a better chance of surviving. Keep in mind that you will not know what form the tree will be with a low grafted Maple.

What Rootstock Is Used For Japanese Maple?

The common rootstock used to propagate Japanese Maples is called Acer Palmatum. You may also hear rootstock go by ‘understock’ when conversing about Maples. You will find that this rootstock is typically between 18-22 inches in height. This understock is what is commonly used for Japanese Maples, however you can find other types to use.

For example you can use:

  • Acer Japonicum
  • Acer Circinatum
  • Acer Pseudosieboldianum
  • Acer Shirasawanum
  • Acer Sieboldianum
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Though any of those rootstock types will do, Acer Palmatum is a favorite for Japanese Maples.

Final notes

Though you can start Japanese Maples from seed, there is no guarantee that it will look like the parent plant. If you are a hobbyist looking for a specific color, texture, and size, you should graft your tree. The best time to do this is in the winter, during January or February. This will ensure you get the perfect looking tree and in a reasonable amount of time.